Last Thursday Chad Pyper’s family, friends and teachers gathered together on what would have been his 21st birthday to celebrate his life.
Chad attended Desert Vista High School, and passed away at 20 after a lifetime struggle with Hunter Syndrome.
“When Chad left, it was on his own terms,” Chad’s mother, Sarah Pyper Colone, said. “His life was very significant, and he made a difference.”
At the ceremony a memorial rock and plaque were unveiled that will remain at Desert Vista permanently. The rock and plaque were donated by Best Buddies, an organization that creates one-on-one friendships for people with disabilities.
There were more smiles and laughter than tears at the service as people shared stories of Chad’s life.
“It seems like yesterday when I was scooting his wheelchair into class, and it was always the highlight of my day,” Chad’s father, Mark Pyper, said. “It’s interesting having a handicapped child because when you take your child to the mall people look at you. Some people smile, and some people look away and feel sorry for you. I literally laugh to myself at that because I was having the time of my life with Chad.”
Elaine Padilla, one of Chad’s teachers at Desert Vista, was on hand for the ceremony with Chad’s classmates.
“Chad was in our class for five years, and he had so much personality and fun, which really touched our lives,” Padilla said. “His sisters and family are still around the school with us, which helps a lot.”
Although Chad was not able to play sports or go to prom like many high school students, he left an impression in his own way on the school.
“In some ways I felt like a celebrity because I was Chad’s dad and everyone loved him at Desert Vista so much,” Mark Pyper said. “I loved every minute of being his dad.”