Friends, family remember Andrew Claymon in Edwards
Vail CO Colorado
EDWARDS – When Andrew Claymon thought about the possibility of death, something stood out in his mind.
“I’m really going to miss my friends,” the 16-year-old told his dad.
The feeling is mutual. More than 700 people packed a memorial gathering for Claymon on Monday night at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.
For the Claymon family, the turnout symbolized the outpouring of support they received throughout Andrew’s 18-month battle with cancer.
After their son’s funeral in Nebraska last weekend, the Claymons returned to their Edwards home to find friends had transformed their overgrown yard into gardens, Andrew’s dad, Mike Claymon, said.
“It eases the pain of not being able to bring Andrew home with us,” he said.
Mike Claymon stood with his wife, Joni Claymon, and son, Brian Claymon, in the high school gymnasium as he addressed a crowd wearing red T-shirts printed with Andrew’s motto, “Always Pursue.”
Mike said his son talked about the future until his last hours. Andrew mentioned going to homecoming, working out so he could pull back his hunting bow and buying a fishing pole from Cabela’s, his father said. Mere hours before his death, Andrew said he wanted to go back to the Nebraska lake where he spent his last weeks so he could work at the bait shop a while longer, Mike Claymon said.
“I doesn’t seem possible for Joni and Brian and I that this horrible disease ended our precious Andrew’s life,” he said. “But it didn’t take his spirit. That will always be with us.”
After the service, the crowd gathered in the high school parking lot to release balloons into the sky.
As she watched the balloons disappear, 15-year-old Annie Wickum said a piece of Andrew remains with everyone he knew.
“I just love that family and Andrew so much,” she said, fighting back tears. “He means a lot to everyone here. He’s an inspiration. I strive to be more like him.”
Wickum recalled how Andrew stayed positive, even right after his diagnosis. Instead of dwelling on his cancer, he showed his friends his new pair of hunting binoculars, Wickum said.
Friends signed memory books and reflected on pictures of Andrew displayed outside the high school gymnasium.
Carsyn Bock, 16, was one of four friends wearing T-shirts that read “Andrew’s girls.” Those friends visited Andrew in Nebraska shortly before he died. Bock remembers how, after Andrew’s uncles failed to catch a fish all day in the lake, Andrew caught one in minutes. Andrew took each friend aside to say goodbye.
“He told us we’d always be in his heart,” she said. “It would be hard not to see us for a while but we’d be together again someday.”
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.