Classmates, friends and family flooded Caroline High School's auditorium, to say goodbye to a loved one taken too soon. Thomas Wheeler, 15, suffered a cardiac arrest during gym class, last Tuesday. Deputies tried to revive him in the gym, but he later passed at the hospital.
The community lit candles, shared songs, prayers and many kind words for Tommy, Monday night, making sure his spirit will always burn bright.
"It's very hard to say goodbye. But at the same time, he has a place for us, right next to him," said one friend of Tommy's at the podium during the vigil.
One by one, Tommy's loved ones and church friends expressed their grief over losing someone so beloved, so suddenly.
"When I heard the news, I was weeping…My faith was too strong to let anyone in this school see me cry," said Jamal Moore, Tommy's cousin.
Jamal led the gathering. Those who knew Tommy best say his kind and quiet nature won't be forgotten. Tommy was an example to follow, making good grades and actively participating in church.
"You name it… If you asked Thomas to do it, he would do it," said an organizer from Tommy's church to the crowd.
"I was new in Caroline last year, and Thomas was one of the first people to talk to me. I was crying on the first day because I didn't know anyone…He walked up to me and was like, 'Hi beautiful. What's your name?'" recounted Taylor Powell, who said she befriended Thomas instantly.
"Just because his body is gone, his spirit is always going to be with you, no matter where you are, or what you are doing," another classmate, Janel White, told the auditorium.
Students made four posters, with messages written to Tommy. One hangs near the auditorium in the school. The other three were given to his family. Students also wore blue to school last week, in Tommy's honor. Friends say crowds of people attended his funeral, this past weekend.
Thursday, April 17 2014 9:05 PM EDT2014-04-18 01:05:03 GMT
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