Anthony was the oldest of three children. He was an old soul even as a young boy. I was only 18 when he was born so it was as though he and I were growing up together. He knew he could talk to me about anything. He was my best friend and confidant. There was a 3-year difference between him and Jeffrey (our middle son and Anthony’s younger brother), there was 10 year difference between Anthony and Jennifer (his baby sister). Both his siblings looked up to him and Anthony instilled respect toward us, his parents and each other. Anthony was the glue that held our family together.
Anthony attended FIU where he joined a prestigious fraternity that he adored. Because he was smart especially in math and other topics, he tutored many of his friends (including me because I went back for my college degree later in life). He was popular on and off campus. He was recognized as a community oriented student who simply cared. Some of his community hours were spent at Possible Dreams, an orphanage for individuals with Down syndrome. With his kind being and noble character he left a mark and a legacy. In his honor, a stretch of bird road (40th Street) from 102nd Avenue to the turnpike has been designated “Anthony J Perez Way”.
Anthony was 25 years old and a few weeks shy of graduation when he lost his life to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning that escaped from a faulty exhaust in the vehicle. The fumes penetrated the inner compartment as he sat inside the idled vehicle with his friend Janelle while on a date on November 14, 2004. Unbeknownst to anyone the exhaust had a leak from wear and tear. We were made aware that both of them felt the effects but never thought of cracking a window, turning off the engine or going for a walk. Two very precious lives were taken. I will never forget when two detectives came to our house to deliver the news. I went into instant shock while the news literally brought my husband to his knees. Our other two children in disbelief. Our hearts were shattered in a million pieces and our lives forever changed. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my son and how different our future would be today if he were with us.
We founded Anthony’s Light Foundation, Inc. in an effort to promote safety and awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning and to work to bring about change. We tell our story each time we award a scholarship in his honor, attend health fairs or at speaking engagements. We believe that if we can save even one life, Anthony, Janelle and the many victims taken too soon will have made a difference.