Kyle Coleson, a Vicksburg teen remembered by friends and family as someone who persevered through challenges with humor and compassion, died Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson. He was 19.
Kyle was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia about 14 months ago. In recent weeks he had suffered complications including an infection, fluid in his lungs and kidney damage leading to heart failure, said his mother, Lisa Coleson, who along with other family members was at Kyle’s side when he died.
Kyle was a strong person who enabled others around him to be strong, she said. “He was a fighter. He fought so hard. He never wanted anybody else to feel bad.”
“He was a better person than I could ever be,” said his father, Mark Coleson. “He was in so much pain and he would try to make everybody else feel better.”
Since Oct. 28, Kyle had been heavily sedated and needed a ventilator to breathe. “The day before they put him under he was hurting so bad, but he was more worried about the nurses feeling bad,” Mark Coleson said. “So he was telling them jokes.”
Kyle attended St. Aloysius High School until his junior year in 2008, when he enrolled briefly at Vicksburg High School. He had always been healthy, his mother said, but about a month after school started he began to feel like his bones were hurting, and she noticed that he seemed to bruise easily.
Doctors ordered blood tests, which revealed the blood-borne cancer. He withdrew from VHS and began treatment. Apart from one bout of serious complications that required at least a month in intensive care in March, Kyle’s health had improved enough for him to enroll again at St. Al this fall.“He’d had a good summer,” said family friend Patty Mekus.
He’d been able to take a trip to the Gulf Coast with his mother and brother. In the fall he was so happy to be back at St. Al, said Mekus, who is development director for Vicksburg Catholic Schools. “He loved the school and the people at the school, and they loved him.”
“Kyle was very much a part of our family here at St. Al and he will be greatly missed,” said Principal Michele Townsend. She said students were coping well today with the news of his death.
Many St. Al students, learning of Kyle’s illness, participated in fundraisers for the family, including selling “Prayers for Kyle” bracelets throughout the city and organizing a benefit concert in June. When Kyle had to be hospitalized again this fall, St. Al’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes held a candlelight vigil.
Kay Kay DeRossette, student body president, said Kyle’s illness brought the school together, like a family. “People who didn’t even know him were moved by his attitude during his whole illness,” she said. “He was still smiling, even after the diagnosis. He was never worried or afraid.”
At St. Al, Kyle played first base and designated hitter on the baseball team and a variety of positions on the football team, said senior classmate Ryno Martin-Nez, also a St. Al athlete.
“One thing all the people who played sports with him knew was that he was the biggest fighter,” Ryno said. Through even the toughest running and conditioning drills “he never gave up. He never complained about running, ever.” He also joked around and liked to “mess with people,” Ryno said. “He was real funny.”
That kind of spirit served him well when he became ill, said junior Victoria Mekus, 17. “I don’t remember him ever being mad,” she said. “He always had a smile.”
When St. Al’s mascot, “The Flash,” became a finalist in a statewide competition staged by WJTV and Zaxby’s chicken restaurants, Kyle “hounded the nurses” at Batson to go online and vote for him. The Flash won the top prize. “He was so proud to be a part of the team,” Patty Mekus said.
Lisa Coleson stressed how grateful she and the family are to everyone who prayed for Kyle and helped the family throughout his illness. “I appreciate so much all the love that people showed us.”
In addition to his mother and father, Kyle is survived by a brother, Cody, 15, a freshman at Vicksburg High School; his maternal grandparents, Jack and Estelle Jordan of Yokena; his paternal grandfather, Jesse Douglas Coleson and his wife, Carol; his great-grandmother, Hazel Coleson; three uncles; two aunts; and 10 cousins. He was predeceased by a grandmother, Mary Sullivan Brooks.
Riles Funeral Home will direct services. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bowmar Baptist Church, and the funeral at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the church. Burial will follow at Green Acres Memorial Park. Contact Pamela Hitchins at firstname.lastname@example.org