Updated: March 25, 2013 3:45PM
NORTHBROOK — Although his life spanned a little more than a decade, Collin Wehr, born May 6, 2001, touched the hearts of a community and the sports world.
Collin died March 20, according to an email statement this morning sent to a small circle of associates from his parents Ray and Joan Wehr.
“Dear Friends,” said the email. “Collin drew his last breaths in our world this morning shortly after 1:00 a.m.
“He fought for as long as he could and much harder than one his age should ever have to in keeping with Walter Payton’s belief, ‘Never die easy.’
“We truly appreciate all of your support and are planning a celebration of Collin’s life.
“We will have details finalized in the next few days. Until then, keep Collin’s spirit alive and strong in your hearts.
“Our thanks, Joan, Ramsay and Ray Wehr.”
For a boy who was diagnosed on January 25, 2010 with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor wrapped around his brain stem, Collin inspired the countless.
It began in October 2009, when Collin, then a third grader at District 27 Grove School, starting feeling flu-like.
Subsequent treatments affected his hearing, caused the boy to choose, naturally, Chicago Bears blue and orange as preferred color wheel complimentary colors for his hearing aids.
Collin was said to regularly email Chicago Bears players. And yes, they immediately replied, said his dad.
The Chicago Bears Halas Hall community wrapped its blue and orange arms around their Make-A-Wish champion.
Collin and his family spent many happy days there in Lake Forest.
When word got out before Christmas that Collin faced new medical challenges, he was the focus of an evening prayer service at Northbrook St. Norbert Church Dec. 11.
“Thank you all, one last time,” wrote Joan and Ray Wehr, in a Dec. 1 email.
At that service, fellow teammates from the Northbrook Jr. Spartan football league wore Glenbrook North H.S.-inspired green and gold jerseys. Collin’s dad is a Jr. Spartan coach and Collin’s sister, Ramsay, is a Glenbrook North H.S. student.
Collin was on the roster although he could not play on the field (but he tossed footballs to his teammates from wheeled seating.
More than 300 prayer service well-wishers sang “Bear Down, Chicago Bears!”
Said Robin Bear, Wehr family spokesperson after the prayer service: “No doctor or hospital is going to tell Collin how long he has on this earth.”
Collin prompted fundraisers to assist with the family’s medical bills, appearing at an Oct. 23, 2011 afternoon at Northbrook Marcello’s restaurant.
He attended football games, including that big night (Oct. 6, 2011) when Collin was the honorary coin tosser and captain for the GBN varsity football team.
Fundraiser pumpkins were sold in cold Lutz Stadium parking lots, and also street side by caring neighbors.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news that we lost such a young, vibrant member of the Northbrook and Spartan communities,” said GBN Principal Paul Pryma in a March 20 statement.
“Many of our students joined the Wehr family in their battle against this disease, and we share our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers.”
Ray Wehr, chairman of the Northbrook Community Relations Commission, appeared with his daughter Ramsay at an Oct. 13 Community Trivia Night at the North Suburban YMCA (NSYMCA) in Northbrook.
“Though nothing anyone can say will ever remove the pain of his loss, I can tell you that I have never seen a community rally behind the cause of an individual and his family like Northbrook did for Collin and the Wehr family as a whole, “ said Howard Schultz, executive director/CEO of the NSYMCA, who also attended the St. Norbert prayer service.
“It was a testament not only to Collin’s bravery in the face of a certain fate, but to the character and values taught and shared by his entire family, that hopefully will now make every memory of him a blessing,” offered Schultz.
At that Trivia Night, Wehr said, “It’s just a testament to what kind of community we live in,” said Wehr.
“I drove out today and saw all kinds of pumpkins being sold. I mean, three years now, they’ve sold pumpkins for Collin, people run marathons, races… For this, Ray Wehr knew the answer to a far-from-trivial question on Trivia Night.
Who’s your hero?
“Oh, it’s Collin…,” he said.
“It’s every father’s dream that someday when their child gets that Bob Costas moment where he’s asking them, ‘Who’s your hero?’ that they say ‘It’s my dad.’
“But for me, it can’t happen because Collin’s mine.
“He’s my hero.”