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Dylan Smith's Love For Life Inspired Community

Dylan Smith, 13, passed away Saturday after winning a long battle with muscular dystrophy. Although the disease hampered his physical abilities, it did nothing to hamper his love for life, gentle heart, and his ability to inspire others.

The Menomonee Falls community lost a young man over the weekend who was truly an inspiration for all that met him.

Dylan Smith, 13, passed away Saturday after winning — not losing — his battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His disease weakened his muscular system and hampered his mobility, but it never weakened his love for life and his ability to move people in a positive way.

"On Saturday, Dylan passed away with all of his loved ones by his side.  He fought his pain, challenges, and his disease with a smile, a positive spirit, and such bravery,” said his aunt Lisa Desai. “He fought and he won his battle against muscular dystrophy because now he is free! We are the ones who have lost; we have lost him. Although his 13 years with us seems much too short, his life here was one full of happiness, love, and laughter. His beautiful smile and gentle, loving spirit will not be forgotten.”

Dylan loved to play video games with his best friend Mitch, cousin Nicholas, and his uncle Greg. He also loved watching movies and participating in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing.

His dream was to become an explorer for the fire department just like his father, Kurt, who is a volunteer firefighter for the Menomonee Falls Fire Department. After services on Saturday, the MFFD will transport Dylan's remains back home atop a fire engine.

“His needs were not a disability, but were just ‘our normal.’ He never ever felt sorry for himself or felt that he had limitations,” said his mother, Jennifer Smith. “He lived a fulfilling life and never let his challenges stop him from trying. One of the family mottos was, 'We’ll figure it out.’"

Dylan also left a lasting impression with fellow students and teachers at North Middle School. In January, Dylan had outgrown the mechanical wheelchair he used to get around. Recognizing his needs, the entire school rallied to sell anti-bullying T-shirts to raise money for a new chair that would allow him to do all the things he loved most.

Ryan Anderson’s seventh-grade class were also ordering shirts. On Monday, as word had spread about his death, students at North wore their anti-bullying shirts to honor Dylan.

The high school student council also organized a benefit at the Quilted Bear to assist the family. It was a case-in-point example of a community coming together. Dylan also received his upgraded wheelchair as well.

“To see and feel the love and support surrounding Dylan and their family was truly overwhelming. Everyone he met truly cared about him and about his well being,” Desai said. “He found his way into many, many people’s hearts.  Dylan was always smiling and had such a positive attitude even through the difficult times.”

As word spread about the weekend’s sad news, the community echoed Desai’s words.

“I too, have a daughter with a chronic illness and know the journey you walk as parents. I commend this community for standing next to him as their classmate,” said Jennifer Bertram, a friend of the Smith family. “What integrity that shows as a community. Dylan and his family have clearly touched too my lives to count.”

“My son and the rest of the kids at North Middle School will miss him,” said North parent Robert Dernetz.

Visitation for Dylan will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Schmidt and Bartelt Funeral Home. A funeral service will follow at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the family would be appreciated.

“Please remember Dylan with a smile on his face as he cruised around town,” his mom said. “He will be in our hearts forever!”

Please share a memory or kind word for Dylan and his family in the comments below.

Falls Parent October 23, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Such sadness, but what a positive role model he truly was!
kathy October 23, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Prayers go out to Dylan's family. My children are grown, but I can only imagine the impact this has had on his classmates.
Jerry Bannerman October 23, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Great Story and with so much bad news in the press lately it is nice to see a story about how someone fought thru the tough times and made the most of it. RIP in Dylan you will be missed by many but should be an inspitration to us all.
Sara October 24, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I loved seeing Dylan and his friend Mitch going down Main Street with Mitch riding on the back of Dylan's wheelchair or even driving Dylan's other wheelchair. You could always see that they had an amazing friendship.
jerry mislang October 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Courageous young kid who fought a brave battle for many many years. His pain and suffering is finally over, but his inspiration and example of how to handle adversity, especially for someone so young, will live forever in the hearts and minds of family, friends, classmates and anyone who ever met him. My families thoughts and prayers are for the Smith Family.
Penny Bush October 24, 2012 at 02:38 PM
He touched my sons life, and he will truly be missed
Mary Ellen Shea October 24, 2012 at 05:47 PM
To Dylans parents and family: My Prayers are with you during thee trying these times. You have lost a wonderful part of your family but have gained love and compassion from him. Dylan was one of a kind. Thank you for letting me share in his life. Mary Ellen Shea
dionne October 24, 2012 at 09:49 PM
you are a awesome family, my prayers are with you. dionne petropoulos pink lemonade salon.
MFLL October 24, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Dylan was a player in the Challenger's league of MFLL. The MFLL Board sends heartfelt thoughts and prayers for the family as their hearts and souls find peace and comfort in their loss.
Chris Zupfer October 26, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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