JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A Kingsport family is making funeral arrangements after a courageous 7-year-old boy lost his long battle with heart disease.
The family of Weston Keeton says he died Sunday afternoon. Many of you have been following Weston's journey in and out of the hospital and through operations.
We're told the love and support of the community meant a lot to Weston.
7-year-old Weston Keeton lived life to the fullest, despite going through several open heart surgeries and procedures. The happy memories are what Weston's family and friends will hold onto.
Jeff and Jennifer Schoondyke work with Kari's Heart Foundation, an organization set up to help families going through unimaginable situations like Weston's.
Jeff Schooondyke tells us they worked with Weston and his family for several years. "We helped get them [to the hospital] and back, just whatever they really needed is what we provided for them," he said.
Little Weston was the recipient of a rare heart and double lung transplant. Recently, he underwent another heart surgery to repair a leaky heart valve. "He had a lot of struggles with breathing, eating, gaining weight, just basic life things," adds Jennifer Schoondyke.
Jeff Schoondyke tells us despite being in and out of the hospital, Weston was still able to keep a smile on his face. "Weston always had a really good outlook. I think a large part of that was due to the family he had the support that he had, not only his family, but thousands and thousands of people," he said.
He says Weston and his battle brought families closer together. "Weston has brought a lot of people closer to their kids, to be more appreciative. To know that giving is something you do not necessarily because you can but because you should," he said.
On a blog post, Weston's family released a statement saying, in part, "While we will miss him here, we are at peace knowing he lived life to the fullest, touched so many people, and is now living without pain."
"Weston had quite a few friends that he had made in the hospital who died, and it always broke Julie's heart to have to tell him that another one had died. She said Weston would just said, 'Well, I'll see them when I go to Heaven. So now he's seeing them,'" says Jennifer.
Weston's family says they are forever thankful to Weston's donor. They say that family gave them three extra months with Weston.
Services for Weston will be Thursday, April 3 at Higher Ground Baptist Church in Kingsport from 1:00- 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. His celebration of life service begins at 7:00 p.m.
If you would like to send a card to the family in Weston's honor you can send them to:
C/O Kari's Heart Foundation
P.O. Box 6165
Johnson City, TN 37602
If you would like to keep up with Weston's family click here for their blog.