PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) - Friends of a central Indiana teenager who died when the airplane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean honored him as his high school’s soccer team played its first home game of the season.
Dozens of people wearing white T-shirts bearing Haris Suleman’s soccer jersey number, 14, filled the stands at Plainfield High School for Tuesday night’s game.
Sales of the shirts with the phrase “#LiveLikeHaris” raised money for the charities that the 17-year-old and his father were promoting as they tried to fly around the world before the July 22 crash off the coast of American Samoa.
Sarah Reynolds, a junior at the suburban Indianapolis school, said she was glad to see such a response.
“You could just tell that Haris had a huge impact on a lot of people’s lives. He was just such a great guy with a big heart, and the whole community is really going to miss him,” Reynolds told WRTV.
Haris Suleman was trying to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff as it was headed for Hawaii.
His father, 58-year-old Babar Suleman, was the co-pilot, and his body hasn’t been found.
Hiba Suleman, 26, said she was excited about the tribute for her brother.
“He has been playing soccer with a lot of those kids for his whole life,” she told The Indianapolis Star.
Organizers of the T-shirt sales have raised about $1,500 for charities to help build schools in Babar Suleman’s native Pakistan, WTHR-TV reported.
Members of the Plainfield soccer team wore Haris Suleman’s name and jersey number on their cleats, shirts and wristbands.
“I’m definitely sad that I lost such a good friend and teammate,” team member Ali Ahmed told WTHR. “This entire season we’re going to be playing extra hard for him.”
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