MEDINA, Ohio — The Medina community is coming together to show support for the family of an 11-year-old boy who died suddenly. An event next week at Medina's Square will remember Gage Gray. Residents are also throwing a large birthday party for his younger brother who will turn six.
Gage would have started sixth grade at A.I. Root Middle school this week. He attended Sidney Fenn Elementary School last year.
His mother, Rebecca Strother, said Gage was kind, funny and had a big smile. He loved video games, baseball and basketball. He also dreamed of becoming a scientist and joining the Air Force just like his mom who serves in the Air Force Reserve.
"I want people to remember that he was just the most fun-loving, caring person. He always took care of friends," Strother said.
Rebecca's boyfriend, Chris Iker, serves in the U.S. Army and considered Gage to be like a son and much more.
"I looked at him and I know his younger brother looked at him as a hero. He was brave. He would stick up for others," Iker said.
On August 8, while on vacation with his dad's side of the family near Sandusky, Gage complained of a headache, passed out and had a seizure.
He died August 14 at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital from an anteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins usually in the brain or spine.
"It's hearbreaking," Iker said. "The Lord blessed us with time with him for 11 great years."
At Gage's funeral on August 19, the Air Force presented Strother with a folded American Flag, a tribute typically reserved to honor those who served in the military.
"I know for sure that my faith tells me, Gage tells me that he's with God and it's 100%," Strother said.
Medina resident Sarah Urquhart has a daughter who was one of Gage's classmates. Urquhart was among several people in the community who was heartbroken over the young boy's death and felt compelled to do something.
She helped organize an August 28 event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. that is expected to draw hundreds of people. It will feature fire trucks, police cars, a petting zoo, food trucks, face painting, clowns and more. Donations for the family will also be collected.
Strother has been touched by the generosity of people she doesn't even know and is glad her younger son won't spend his birthday mourning. She also hopes the gathering "opens a window" to what's important.
"It's not about the little things. It's just not. It's not about the little things in life. It's about big things and that's support and love," she said.
"He brought a lesson to us all and a good lesson," Iker said. "You must take advantage of the time we have in this world."
Through her heartache, Strother, who also has a 4-month-old daughter, is trying to remain strong and focus on how many lives Gage touched. She said the event planned for next week is only further proof.
"I think he would be amazed. He would be proud of everybody that's around him."