May 1, 2014
BY PATRICK HERB
UW Athletic Communications
ram and Shari Dorresteijn spent a lifetime – unfairly short as it was – making people’s lives richer.
Now, a community that was so touched by the couple is returning the favor.
Last Thursday evening, Bram, 34, and Shari, 33, of Sun Prairie lost their lives in a tragic car accident in Kenosha County. The couple, who have deep roots with the Badgers, leave behind two children: two-year-old Wesley and two-month-old Charlotte.
Bram, a former captain for the Wisconsin men’s soccer team, and Shari, a former student in the UW Sports Medicine department, also leave behind a wake of memories, laughter and countless lives that are enriched merely by their friendship.
Shortly after their passing, friends set up the Shari & Bram Dorresteijn Memorial Fund to help ensure that their children will be taken care of in their absence.
Organizers originally set a goal of $100,000. Within three days, the goal had been reached and reset to $200,000. That figure will probably be eclipsed by the end of the week.
More than 2,300 individuals have made a donation. Staggering.
But to those who knew Bram and Shari, this comes as little surprise.
• • • •
he best thing I can say about Bram, is that I can’t say a single bad thing about him,” said Tim Caprez, a co-captain with Bram on the 1999 UW soccer team.
“I have thousands of stories about Bram, but every single one is positive and happy,” former teammate and long-time friend Brian Feyrer added. “That’s the way he was, a genuinely good person.”
“Shari was one of those people who transcends classes,” former co-worker Andy Hrodey of the UW Sports Medicine staff shared. “She could relate to any athlete regardless of where they came from. I will always remember her for being fun to be around.”
Poll 100 people. Poll 1,000 people. Poll 2,300 apparently, and you will hear nothing but stories of joy and friendship.
|“The best thing I can say about Bram is that I can't say a single bad thing about him.”
Bram, a defenseman at Wisconsin from 1998-2000, served as co-captain of the 1999 team and was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. He was also given the prestigious William Reddan Spirit of Soccer Award, an honor named for the founder of UW’s soccer program and seemingly made for Bram.
The award’s description reads: Presented to a member of the men’s soccer team who exemplifies Coach Reddan’s positive spirit of the game of soccer. It was he who taught us that key events take place in the heart, wherefrom the greatest goals are scored.
But to his teammates, he is remembered much more for his emotional impact and leadership than any statistic or accolade could explain.
“I consider Bram a real pillar of the UW soccer program,” Caprez explained. “During a period that was relatively unremarkable in terms of wins and losses, he stands out. He would have stood out on any team, in any era.
“He was a beacon of optimism. Selfless, passionate and unceasingly positive.”
Bram would go on to serve as an international sales manager at Imperial Blades, based out of Sun Prairie. He continued to play soccer in the area, playing with the Madison 56ers MPSL team and in local tournaments.
“Even while not knowing Bram personally, his impact on the soccer community is unmistakable,” current UW men’s soccer coach John Trask said. “When we were notified of the accident and told about Tuesday night’s ‘Tribute to Bram’ event at Keva, our student-athletes were the ones who asked if they could attend to show their support for Bram and his loved ones. He was certainly embedded in the Madison soccer community and we are all saddened.”
Off the pitch, Bram’s interests were spread as widely as the perpetual smile on his face. But above all else, his and Shari’s love for their children stands out.
“That’s something that we hope that we can continue to remind Wesley and Charlotte of as they continue to grow up. That they will never forget how much they were loved by Bram and Shari,” Bram’s sister, Tessa Dorresteijn said.
Born in the Netherlands, Bram’s passport is stamped from Southeast Asia to South Africa to South America. In addition to unending devotion to his family, Bram was an avid biker, triathlete and enjoyed horseback riding.
“It didn’t matter what he was doing, he was positive,” Feyrer said. “He was a guy who would out-work anyone and somebody who gave his best in everything he did. He did that in life, no matter the task.”
Shari also has deep Badgers roots. A 2003 graduate of UW-Madison, she worked as an athletic trainer during her undergraduate days, assisting with the men’s basketball and hockey teams among others.
“She was so outgoing and friendly to everyone,” UW athletic trainer Chuck Hart remembered. “She was easy to laugh with and had the ability to easily gain the confidence of people, athletes included.”
Shari’s personality is forever carved into the minds of those with whom she worked, and her skill is immortalized on a plaque in the Camp Randall training room. “Shari Khaja,” as she was known then, was the recipient of the UW Sports Medicine’s 2003 Most Outstanding Student award.
“Shari worked with the men’s basketball team during one of Bo Ryan’s first seasons and I just remember how delightful she was,” UW men’s basketball athletic trainer Henry Perez-Guerra said. “I know Coach Ryan really liked her and so did all of the athletes. She had a great sense of humor. You could joke around with her, yet she knew how to work hard and get things done.”
Most recently, Shari was a program manager for Physician Extender Services at UW Health.
• • • •
hen writing about Bram and Shari, it’s fitting that you can’t possibly find a negative word uttered. Because that is the exact description you hear about them.
“Bram didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody, ever,” Feyrer said. “He had the ability to find the positives in everyone and every situation.
“He helped make everybody around him a better player, but more importantly a better person.”
“I think in Shari, he found someone who kind of had the same energy and could keep up with him,” Bram’s brother, Paul Dorresteijn, said. “They accomplished so much in the short life they lived.”
They are not done accomplishing things.
Judging by the friends they are bringing together and the overwhelming out-pouring of memories, support and donations to their children, the legacy of Bram and Shari will never fade.
If you would like to help with financial support and peace of mind for Bram and Shari’s young children, donations can be made to the Shari & Bram Dorresteijn Memorial Fund.
Donations can be mailed to:
The Children of Shari & Bram Fund
c/o First Business Bank
P.O. Box 44961
Madison, WI 53744
Arrangements to celebrate the lives of Bram and Shari have been set for this weekend.
Friday, May 2 - 3-8 p.m.
Krause Funeral Home, Brookfield (Capitol Drive near Springdale Road)
Celebration of Life
Saturday, May 3 - 11 a.m.
Edgewood High School, Madison