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Bowlers share memories of fallen friend (video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Sept. 15, 2013 at 4:15 a.m.
Updated Sept. 16, 2013 at 4:16 a.m.

Jordyn Yeager, 3, watches his bowling ball roll down the lane during the funeral benefit for his father, Mark Yeager, who recently died  in August. Family and friends gathered together to bowl at Century Lanes for Mark's funeral costs, which amounted to almost $13,000.

Kristan Alvarez froze at the top of her lane as the bowling pins crashed at the opposite end.

She hasn't bowled in Victoria for many years, but she still remembers how to knock a few down.

But Alvarez wasn't playing for mere entertainment Sunday at Century Lanes.

She was bowling to honor and raise money for her Victoria friend, Mark Yeager, who died suddenly a month ago from a rare case of pneumonia.

"Mark was a bowler, so when I started thinking about ways to raise money for the family, this was the first thing that came to mind," Alvarez, 31, said, describing her motivation for organizing Sunday's fundraiser. "I wanted to be here to support his family and help raise money and pay down some of the funeral debt."

Yeager was buried a few days after his death at the El Campo Garden of Memories. Funeral expenses exceeded $13,000.

"I just know it's money his parents don't have, so we're going to be doing a few of these fundraisers to help them out," Alvarez said.

Yeager, 31, grew up in Victoria and was living in Ganado when he died. The last two weeks in July, he started feeling symptoms of sinus congestion and allergies. He sought emergency help at DeTar Hospital Navarro, however, when he started experiencing fever and difficulty breathing.

Yeager's mother, Sherry Yeager, said her son went to the emergency room on a Sunday and died three days later at 3:09 a.m. Aug 1.

Both of Yeager's lungs had collapsed.

"The doctor said it was the worst case of (staphylococcus aureus pneumonia) he'd seen in the 40 years he'd been practicing medicine," Sherry Yeager said.

Both Yeager's mother and Alvarez said the bowling fundraiser Sunday was the perfect way of honoring his memory.

Yeager started bowling when he was 3 years old, the same age as his son, Jordyn.

"I think he would love that we're doing this for him. I think he's watching us right now and seeing Jordyn roll the ball and hold his hands in the air, shouting, 'I got two!'" Sherry Yeager said, wiping a tear from her eye.

But the women agree, wherever Yeager is, he's in a happier place, sharing his gifts of kindness and friendship.

"I have a huge hole in my heart, and it will never be the same again. Every day, I wake up and wonder if this hasn't been some terrible nightmare," his mother said. "But he's in a better place now. He's not suffering anymore."



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