Pop Warner to retire Daniel Alexander’s jersey number in ceremony on Saturday
Editor’s note: The public is invited to Bulldog Stadium on Ninth Street at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, to celebrate the memory of Class of 2001 Ramona High School graduate Danial Alexander, who was killed in Escondido on July 4, 2009. Daniel’s Ramona Pop Warner jersey number 48 will be retired during the ceremony.
By Dan Megna
It is a sad reality that all too often the memory of those who pass on from our community fades over time from our everyday consciousness. The family and perhaps a hand-full of close friends will hold close the fond memories, but in the end, only a sad few will benefit from that person’s goodness.
One local family is determined to change that, and keep the memory of their son, Daniel Alexander, in our collective hearts and mind for years to come. For the past two years, the Ramona community has already benefited from the goodness of Daniel’s family, and they recently they announced another avenue for giving back and sharing their son’s legacy.
Daniel was a 2001 honors graduate from Ramona High School. He played football and ran track. He enjoyed and participated in many other sports, including soccer, basketball, and baseball. He explored karate and wrestling and, just for fun, exercised his skill and precision on the frisbee golf course, attaining the status of “ace” after throwing a difficult hole-in-one.
Daniel also had a gentler, less competitive side. He enjoyed time with his many friends, and was quick to make new ones, drawn to him by his genuine, outgoing ways. He was inspired by the discovery and adventure he found in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and enjoyed the creative challenges of cooking and barbecuing. He shared with his family and close friends his dream to one day attend culinary classes and perhaps even become a chef.
But Daniel loved football. As a defensive end for the Ramona Bulldogs, Daniel lived for the excitement of chasing down and sacking a scrambling quarterback.
“The dearest thing to Dan’s heart, other than his family, was football,” said his mother, Debbie Steingraber. “That was the sport that he loved. He was all about football.”
Daniel’s passion for football was likely influenced by his pro football idol, Miami Dolphin’s quarterback, Dan Marino. His skills, however, were honed by playing the game as a young boy up through the ranks with Ramona Pop Warner.
But on July 4, 2009, Daniel’s life was tragically cut short, when he was gunned down by a cowardly thug while walking to meet his girlfriend in Escondido. Although his killer has been identified, he has managed to elude authorities, while Daniel’s family and friends pray for justice.
Since his death, Daniel’s family and friends have taken a proactive approach to keeping Daniel’s memory alive. Through rummage sales and other fundraising efforts, they have created the Daniel Alexander Memorial Fund, which in the past two years has provided much needed funds for local and regional programs and events.
Locally, Intermountain Fire & Rescue Department and Ramona Rotary’s annual fireworks display have received monies from the memorial fund. Debbie said,
“Because Daniel passed away on July 4, 2009, we felt like that was an important day to celebrate Daniel’s life,” said his mother.
Regionally, San Diego County Crime Stoppers also receives contributions in Daniel’s name, and his family doesn’t stop there. They also organized “Team Dan The Man;” an enthusiastic group of Daniel’s family, friends, and supporters, who participate in the Light the Night Against Crime 5K walk/run held annually in downtown San Diego.
The family hopes that one day, “Team Dan The Man” will become the largest team at the event and invite anyone who wishes to join the team, to do so by visiting www.sdcrimestoppers.com and specify “Dan The Man.”
This year, Daniel’s family has decided to expand their community support, this time a financial gift to Ramona Pop Warner, an organization that played such an important and formative role in their son’s upbringing.
“When we thought about the best way to honor Daniel, and decided it was through football, Pop Warner came to mind,” said Debbie Steingraber.
So earlier this year, the Daniel Alexander Ramona Pop Warner Scholarship Fund was established. Daniel’s family has seeded it with $2,000, intended to go toward underprivileged or financially challenged youth from the Ramona community and earmarked to cover their season expenses so they, too, can become involved in the Pop Warner programs.
“This is the first year and we hope this will be something we can do every year in Dan’s name,” said Debbie. “I think it would be something Dan would be very proud of.”
To celebrate this new partnership with Debbie’s family and show appreciation for the Daniel Alexander Ramona Pop Warner Scholarship Fund, Ramona Pop Warner will dedicate all football games on Saturday, Sept. 8, to Daniel Alexander.
Ramona Pop Warner invites the community to come out to Bulldog Stadium at 10:30 a.m. and join in celebrating Daniel’s memory and extend a public thank you to his family for supporting Ramona Pop Warner.
During a ceremony that will be held before the game, Daniels jersey number, 48, will be retired.
“I’m just thrilled,” said Debbie. “I’m so excited about the whole thing. What really touched m heart was hearing everything Pop Warner is doing. But when she (Ramona Pop Warner League President Aundrea Zazas) mentioned that they were going to retire Dan’s jersey number, that was just incredible.”
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