By Donald Wittkowski
Sunday would have been Brian Deutsch’s 38th birthday.
So, his friends did what they have been doing for the past five years to honor his memory – they held a skateboarding tournament in Sea Isle City at Dealy Field.
The Brian Deutsch Memorial Skate Contest was considered extra special on Sunday not only because it fell on his birthday, but because it was the last one.
Michael Lamantia, the tournament organizer who was one of Deutsch’s closest friends, explained that it has become too difficult to run the event on the East Coast while he lives in California.
“We wanted to do the last one on Brian’s birthday to make it special,” said Lamantia, of San Diego.
Lamantia also noted that the tournament has been building momentum in recent years, so this seemed the appropriate time “to go out on top.”
Deutsch, who used to skate with Lamantia in Sea Isle when they were growing up, died in 2013 from an opioid overdose after a long battle with drug addiction. Lamantia and other friends decided at Deutsch’s funeral that the best way to memorialize him was to hold a skating tournament benefiting a number of charities.
In five years, the nonprofit tournament has raised more than $33,000 for charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It has also benefited programs to fight drug abuse and homelessness, Lamantia said.
Locally, the tournament has benefited the Sea Isle City recreation department, the Polar Bear Walk-Run for Autism and Peyton’s Promise, a charity that raises money to help children born with a breathing disorder known as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH, Lamantia added.