BROOKFIELD, Wis. — A new non-profit is being launched in the memory of 18-year-old Brookfield pilot Daniel Perelman, who passed away a few days after his plane crashed in Wauwatosa on May 26.
His parents tell TMJ4 News that the way the community responded following the tragedy involving their son inspired them to keep Daniel's legacy alive in a special way.
"Before he went on that plane, he hugged us, kissed us, we said 'I love you' and when he was going on the runway, he gave us thumbs up. Then, we saw a few passes in the sky and it happened shortly after," said Ana Perelman, Daniel's mother.
In their first interview since the crash, Ana and her husband Benjamin, Daniel's dad, say that final memory will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The deadly crash is still being investigated, but in the meantime, the community has been stepping up in major ways.
"We found out how many more lives he touched that we were not even aware of," said Ana.
Thousands of people started committing acts of kindness. The movement was named Deeds for Daniel. Hundreds of people sent heartwarming cards, flowers, and memorials to help keep Daniel's memory alive.
"The cards were coming for weeks and weeks. We still get an occasional card," said Benjamin.
Even Daniel gave back as his short life ended.
"He saved four lives. His organs, his heart, two kidneys and liver, were transplanted to four live donors," said Benjamin.
It was all of that good that led Mr. and Mrs. Perelman to start a non-profit in their son's name.
The Perelmans are launching Daniel Gives Back.
"Saving lives and improving lives, and that's what the spirit and the goal of the organization is going to be," said Ana.
The non-profit's website shares this mission statement: "Daniel was going to change the world, leaving behind a legacy of academic and intellectual curiosity and excellence, combined with a strong sense of social justice and community service. In his memory, we will help other bright and ambitious individuals achieve their goals, making this a better world by pursuing higher education and developing strong social responsibility that will improve our community and the society we live in."
The Perelmans are also teaming up with Versiti Blood Center to host a blood drive in Daniel's memory. The event will be held Tuesday, July 12 from 1:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at 1275 N. Barker Road in Brookfield.