KAREEM BACCHUS: 1990-2007
University freshman remembered for
charisma, love of life
CDT on Thursday, September 20, 2007
Nearly two days after Kareem
Bacchus died at an Indiana hospital,
stunned friends kept showering him
with text messages.
"I know you won't get this, but I
love you and wish only that you rest
in peace," read one message sent to
Kareem's cellphone on Wednesday.
"Thanks for being so amazing every
day of your life."
The popular 17-year-old graduate of
Plano West Senior High School fell
unconscious Saturday night, after
playing tennis at Indiana
University, where he was a freshman.
He was placed on life support and
died early Tuesday.
Family members said Kareem may have
suffered a severe allergic reaction,
possibly to something he ate,
although official autopsy results
are weeks away.
Police said friends helped Kareem
back to his dorm room to administer
allergy medicine, but his condition
Kareem was allergic to seafood,
dairy products and peanuts, said his
mother, Ann Bacchus. He was
hospitalized this month for another
allergic food reaction.
His sudden death reverberated
from Bloomington, Ind., to Plano to
Loved ones in all three cities
organized memorial services in his
honor this week, as tributes
continued to flow on the Internet
and into his cellphone inbox.
Friends and family on Wednesday
recalled Kareem's energetic
personality and his smooth, deep
baritone singing voice.
He was the lead bass for the
Plano West choir and also performed
in a separate mixed ensemble.
"He had a lot of charisma," his
mother said. "Kareem loved the
limelight. He loved being on stage.
He totally lit up."
A versatile singer, Kareem was
equally comfortable belting out the
songs of Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra
and Elton John. Friends downloaded
his songs on their iPods and watched
videos of his solo performances on
"You couldn't miss him, with the
laughter and all the happiness of
his being," said Kathy Hackett, head
of choral activities at Plano West.
"When he sang, the happiness was
Hansini Sharma, a longtime Plano
friend who attends the University of
Texas at Austin, said Kareem tackled
everything "with a full heart," from
friendships to academics to his role
in the school musical, West Side
"His optimism helped me be more
optimistic," said Ms. Sharma, 18.
"You would never see him without his
huge smile plastered across his
Ms. Sharma said about 30 people
gathered at UT this week to share
memories of Kareem.
Indiana students have arranged at
least two memorial services in his
honor, said Dick McKaig, Indiana's
dean of students. Kareem quickly
made his mark in Bloomington.
Classmates elected him vice
president of his dormitory, which is
home to more than 1,000 students.
And he won direct admission to
Indiana's Kelley School of Business,
which lets in only a small number of
freshmen."Academically, he stood
out," Dr. McKaig said. "Socially, he
stood out. It's a very, very sad
Kareem's mother said her son
wanted to study in Spain and
ultimately hoped to pursue a career
in international business. His
interests extended well beyond
singing – he played tennis, earned a
black belt in tae kwon do and worked
as a lifeguard and mall clothing
But friends and family said
Kareem's enthusiasm and compassion
were more impressive than his
accomplishments. "He was full of
life – very caring, very loving,"
said his father, Fazal Bacchus. "I
was privileged to have him as a
son," Ms. Bacchus said. "He taught
me more than I taught him. He just
believed there was good in anybody."
In addition to his parents,
survivors include his younger
brother, Zain, two grandmothers and
numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Services begin today with a
viewing from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at
the Rahma Funeral Home, 7810 W.
Spring Valley Road in Dallas. Final
rites are scheduled for 1:45 p.m. at
the Dallas Central Mosque, 840
Abrams Road in Richardson, followed
by a procession and burial at 2:30
p.m. at Restland Cemetery, 9220
Restland Road in Dallas.
In lieu of flowers, the family
asks that donations be made to the
Asthma & Allergy Foundation of
America or the Food Allergy &