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No. 2 News Story: In memory of Michael

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The June 10 accident that led to the passing of 6-year-old Michael Rohan touched the entire community. The outpouring of support touched the Rohan family as a memorial at the site of the incident - the Spencer Family Aquatic Center - as well as trees planted to honor him help remind Spencer residents of Michael. Recently, his parents donated 17 children's books to the library at Johnson Elementary School in his memory. The tragedy touched many, and Michael will not be forgotten.

(Photo)
Susan Rohan receives a hug from Jerrica Storm during the 55th Shayla Bee Fund donation and memorial dedication for Rohan's son Michael, who passed away June 10, following a near-drowning at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center.
(File photo)
Tears welled in the eyes of Kevin and Susan Rohan as they talked on Saturday morning at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center, where an accident claimed the life of their 6-year-old son Michael.

"He was an amazing little boy," Susan said.

"We wish we didn't have a reason to meet you," Jerry Faulkner, of Shalya Bee Fund, said, referencing the donation the fund made to the Rohans to help cover expenses.

Saturday marked the 55th donation of its kind, and the addition of a wooden cross bearing the words "Micheal M. Rohan 12 26 05 - 6 10 12" at the site that has become a makeshift memorial.

Shelly Higgins organized that initial memorial and also arranged for the cross, a product of donated time, to be made.

"It's just a temporary deal until someone can make something permanent for you guys," Higgins said, with tears streaking down her cheek. "I just don't think that spot should ever be empty because that's Michael's place."

The Rohans thanked Higgins, Faulkner and the nearly 200 people in attendance for support throughout the difficult time.

"We feel overwhelmed and blessed beyond measure," Susan said. "I can't describe in words what we're feeling right now. We've never had to feel it before. It's amazing, the support we've received from the community."

(Photo)
Jerry Faulkner, of Shayla Bee Fund, and Susan Rohan survey the temporary memorial marker made for her 6-year-old son Michael Rohan. Shelly Higgins had the cross made to replace the numerous items that were placed at the fence of the Spencer Family Aquatic Center in the days after Michael's passing. Higgins hopes a permanent marker will replace it at the end of the summer.
(File photo) [Order this photo]
"It's been fantastic," Kevin added. "Nobody wants anything like this to happen, but if something like this does happen, everyone should get the amount of support we have. So many people have come up and offered assistance and done so much for us. All the gifts, and the memorial, have been fantastic. It's just been incredible."

They used similar words to describe their son. Susan noted that he was reading before the age of 5 and used words like "smart" and "fearless" to describe him.

"He was a blessing in our eyes and our hearts," she said. "He would do anything for anyone. The last few weeks before he died, he was opening doors for people and making sure everyone would go through to make sure everybody had a little piece of him. It's pretty impressive the little boy he was turning into."

Goofing off, telling jokes, playing soccer and t-ball were all a part of who Michael was and what he loved to do, she continued.

"He loved to figure out how things worked," his dad added. "He tried to play video games; some he was better at than others. Anything he could get his hands on, he just loved. He wasn't afraid to go anywhere or do anything. He was quite the incredible little guy."

Though Michael has passed, Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson noted Monday evening that his legacy will live on.

"That young man is a hero because he donated his organs to help other people live," Peterson said at the conclusion of the Spencer City Council meeting. "So that man is one of the greatest heros that we know of today. Please keep the family in your prayers."

Kevin and Susan made it clear that those prayers, and all types of support, have meant more than words can express.

"We just want to say how thankful we are for everything people have done for us," Susan said. "All the things people have given: their time, energy and support."

"That support is why we're able to stand here today, be with the Shayla Bee people, be out here at the memorial and be able to answer questions and things like that," Kevin said. "That's what's giving us our strength."

Susan advised other parents not to take anything for granted.

"Hug your kids tonight because you never know when something like this is going to happen and how fast you lose your entire world and how fast it will crumble around you," she said.

Though that exact picture has become their life, she credited others for helping to put the pieces back together.

"But we've been uplifted with the amount of support we've had," she concluded. "We've been uplifted by our friends and family and just the outpouring of love this community has given us."



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