Indiana teen pilot, dad raise $1 million for charity despite deadly crash
(CNN) — A California entrepreneur is helping salvage the dream of a father and son from Indiana who died trying to pilot a plane around the world in a record-breaking quest for charity.
Entrepreneur Ashar Aziz has donated the remaining half of the $1 million Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris were hoping to raise for a Pakistan charity that helps poor children go to school.
The Sulemans’ plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean near American Samoa on July 22, ending a voyage that was months in the making and would have taken the father-son duo on a 26,500 mile adventure around the world in 30 days in their single-engine plane. Had they completed the flight, the teenager would have been the youngest pilot to achieve the feat.
“I was deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the tragic end of Babar and Haris’ fundraising mission,” said entrepreneur Ashar Aziz.
Aziz was a high school classmate and friend of Babar Suleman. “I felt that the best way to honor this brave father and son duo was to complete their mission of raising $1 million for the charity that was dedicated to providing free education for the underprivileged.”
The Sulemans were raising money for the Indiana-based group Seeds of Learning, which supports the work of The Citizens Foundation in Pakistan. They had raised half their goal when their Beechcraft Bonanza A36 crashed into the Pacific 23 miles from the island.
In an interview with CNN affiliate WISH TV in June, only days before the pair set off, Babar Suleman, also a pilot, spoke of the importance of the work done by the Pakistan charity. The money raised, he said, would help open schools “for underprivileged children who otherwise would not have a hope of getting an education and may even end up in the wrong hands.”
Aziz said, “Since this is a cause I also believe deeply in, it was only appropriate that I help complete my old friend and class-fellow’s humanitarian mission.”
Cookie Suleman, Babar Suleman’s wife and Haris’ mother, was “really, really touched,” according to Danial Noorani, spokesman for The Citizens Foundation, the parent organization of Seeds of Learning.
The body of Haris Suleman was recovered after the crash, but his father is missing and presumed dead.
Services for the teen were held Thursday in his hometown of Plainfield in central Indiana.