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David Blackburn – Men’s Fastpitch Softball: A Maccabi Miracle

David Blackburn is known as a friend to everyone who meets him, and to the people he meets in the softball community, he is family.  Everyone who meets him, loves him.

David first became involved with Maccabi USA as a member of the inaugural Open Men’s Fastpitch Softball Team at the 12th Maccabiah over 25 years ago in 1985.  He has played or coached at every Maccabiah since then, where there has been a Fastpitch Softball competition.  David has competed at six Maccabiah Games and five Pan American Maccabi Games, accumulating five gold, one silver and one bronze medal along the way, with the most recent gold medal as a member  of the USA Masters Men’s Fastpitch Team at the 18th World Maccabiah Games.

David has also played for various leagues as part of the Amateur Softball Association and currently for the Maccabi USA 40+ Men’s team.  As part of his athletic career he has developed lifelong friendships with other softball athletes, not just from the USA but from around the world.  Maccabi USA was notified this past summer that David will be inducted into the International Softball Congress Sports Hall of Fame in August 2011 for service to the Congress, where he has brought the game into the 21st century by his use of technology and increasing international awareness of the game.

On August 26, David and two teammates, Larry Silfen and Ronnie Rupp, were driving together to Arizona to meet the other members of the Maccabi USA Men’s Team to participate in the ASA Over 40 National Fastpitch Championship.  Before they were able to reach their destination, they were involved in a near-fatal car accident.  Despite his own injuries, Ronnie was able to get himself out of the wreckage and pulled his two friends out of the car and moved them to safety before the car exploded.  David sustained the worst of the injuries with multiple broken and shattered bones including those in his ankles, femur and pelvis.  When the paramedics got them to the hospital, David was immediately rushed to the ICU.  Soon after, although in critical condition, he was declared stable along with Ronnie and Larry.

Meanwhile, the other members of the Maccabi USA Team had to decide whether they would move forward with participating in the National Tournament.  After hearing that their teammates were stabilized, they decided to participate in the tournament in honor of their friends.  It was a very surreal experience for everyone on the team because of the traumatic events that occurred. A number of players, in particular Tony Kahan, started each game with inspiring words about their injured teammates.  Maybe it was because of their passionate feelings for their friends and teammates, but the Maccabi USA Men’s Team came from behind in the loser’s bracket and went on to win the ASA Over 40 National Men’s Fastpitch Tournament.

David’s on-going recovery is truly a miracle to his family and friends throughout the Maccabi and International Fastpitch communities.  After spending 68 days in ICU at an Arizona hospital, David was transferred to a hospital in Los Angeles where he has remained until just recently.  He has just been transferred to a rehabilitation center where he will start to receive physical therapy which should help with his healing.

Although he still has a long road to a full recovery ahead of him, David has a date in August in Moline, IL where he will be inducted into the International Softball Congress Sports Hall of Fame.  His family, friends and particularly his Maccabi family have been with him throughout this journey and will stay by his side until he is fully recovered.   After all, David is larger than life.

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