Nazmi Albadawi: "They were the three most genuine, kind, and innocent people I have ever met in my life."

Nazmi Albadawi and Deah Barakat at Deah's engagement party.

Nazmi Albadawi and Deah Barakat at Deah's engagement party.

On February 10, 2015 the world was shaken when it lost three young souls far too early:  Deah Barakat (23), his wife Yusor Abu-Salha (21), and her younger sister Razan Abu-Salha (19) were all shot and killed in their Chapel Hill apartment. 

Prior the RailHawks match vs. Seoul E-Land on Sunday, TSF and the RailHawks will honor the victims with a fundraiser to continue the charity work the three started

The following is a personal note from RailHawks midfielder Nazmi Albadawi talking about how much his friends Deah, Yusor, and Razan meant to him.

I feel honored and blessed to have held such a close friendship with all three victims.  From the bottom of my heart, I can say that they were the three most genuine, kind, and innocent people I have ever met in my life.  They found happiness in helping those less privileged, and they were always the first in line to help anyone in need. 

Yusor and Razan were the two younger sisters of my best friend Yousef.  In short, both girls personified compassion.  They were the two sweetest girls I had ever met, and they always treated me with nothing but kindness.  Every time I went over to the Abu-Salha house I was continually met with open arms; following a sincere welcome from their warm smiles, Yusor and Razan always generously crafted delicious snacks for Yousef and me.  Their joy was infectious, and they immediately lit up any room that they walked into with their captivating smiles and charismatic personalities.

I had never seen Yusor’s smile shine as brightly as it did on December 27th, 2014 – the day she married Deah.  I watched as Razan, the Maid of Honor, stood beside her sister as she wed the love of her life, and I watched as Yusor and Deah vowed their commitment to each other.  I am forever grateful to have had the privilege of witnessing a ceremony celebrating such great love in so many different forms.  Anyone who knew Deah, Yusor, and Razan knows that they were inseparable – it only makes sense that they moved on together as well.

Deah was a very close friend to me, and I valued how kind and understanding he was.  I could always count on him to support me whenever I needed him – in school, soccer, or life.  When reminiscing on memories of Deah, the one aspect that comes to mind is how much I respected him for how ridiculously competitive he was.  Deah was the nicest, most considerate person to step on this earth, but when it came time for basketball, all of that went out the window – he immediately flipped a switch.  It is this exact level of competitiveness that I will aim to embody every single time I step onto the field, to honor Deah.

Deah always made sure to come out and support me at my NC State games, and although he was busy with his own workload at UNC Dental School, he also attended multiple Carolina Railhawks throughout my rookie season.  In typical Deah form, he was also working with the Railhawks public relations department to organize an event at a 2015 Railhawks game.  His goal was to be able to provide free dental care for any underprivileged kids in need of it prior to a home game this year.

Deah, Yusor, and Razan had a great passion for helping the community, and the Railhawks organization shares in that passion.  It is with great honor that I was designated to choose the charity for which the funds from our March 8th game against Seoul E-Land will go. The charity I have chosen, in Our Three Winners’s honor, is Syrian Dental Relief.  Project: Refugee Smiles.

Deah helped organized the Project: Refugee Smiles along with the UNC School of Dentistry and the Syrian American Medical Society in an effort to provide dental care to Syrian refugees.  He set up a fundraising website to raise money to purchase dental supplies necessary for him, Yusor, and other fellow dentists to travel to Turkey and provide dental care for those in need.  Deah’s goal was to raise $20,000 prior to this summer.  As of today, February 24, 2015, thanks to the incredible generosity of supporters around the world, Project Refugee Smiles has raised $479,363.  This fundraising amount is far above his original goal of $20,000, however, to honor Deah’s never-ending competitiveness and generous spirit, we are asking the RailHawks family to come together and continue to support this cause.  100% of the donations on March 8th will go towards Project Refugee Smiles.  The people now heading this project have expanded their original plan and will travel to a new country each summer to help a new population in need of dental care. 

I ask that you also continue to keep both families in your prayers – families that have had the courage to stay so strong throughout this tragic time.  These are two of the most respectful, loving, accepting, and giving families in our community, and they need our thoughts and prayers now more than ever.  Let’s show Our Three Winners and their families the same kindness and generosity that they showed everyone they came in contact with.

Thank you again to the RailHawks Family for all of your support, and I can’t wait to bring that championship trophy back this season!