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Ayden Zeigler-Kohler remembered at Utz Arena

Christopher Dornblaser
505-5436/@YDDornblaser
Crystal Smith and her son Wesley Searle, of North York, pause by the casket during a Celebration of Life Service for Ayden Zeigler-Kohler at Utz Arena Saturday, April 1, 2017. Ayden died after battling cancer for several months. About 400 people attended the service. Bill Kalina photo
  • Hundreds of people came tot he Utz arena Saturday in memory of Ayden Zeigler-Kohler, 10, who died last week.
  • Those who knew him said he made people smile, and that he was always concerned about other people.
  • He was led to the arena by a motorcade procession.

Ayden Zeigler-Kohler will be remembered as a child who could make people smile.

Pete Legg, of Dallastown, who knew Ayden through the U.S. Military Veterans Motorcycle Club, said he made their organization smile a lot.

"Just the smile would light up this room," he said.

Ayden, 10, who was a student at East York Elementary School, died March 22 after battling cancer for several months.

Beth Wolfe, of Springettsbury Township, hugs Bill Kohler, during the viewing services for Ayden Zeigler-Kohler Saturday, April 1, 2017, at Utz Arena. Amanda J. Cain photo

On Saturday, Legg, along with about 400 other people in the community, gathered at Utz Arena at the York Expo Center to remember Ayden's life.

The room was filled with people wearing orange shirts and Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys in support of Ayden, who was a big football fan. The right side of the hall was filled with posters featuring pictures of Ayden, while a slideshow of Ayden's life played on a screen in the front.

At the end of the service, Ayden's father, local veteran's advocate Bill Kohler, spoke to the crowd. The event was supposed to have people laughing and having fun — which was Ayden's idea.

"Everything today is from Ayden to the community," Kohler said. "This is what he had asked for."

Kohler also said how touched he was by the community's support of his son. That support, he said, reached beyond the confines of York and into the world.

He mentioned that his son's story had reached people all over the world and that he was getting condolence messages from many different places.

10-year-old son of local veterans advocate dies

Remembering: Ayden's hearse was escorted to the fairgrounds in a motorcade by the motorcycle club, of which Ayden was made an honorary member.

"That's as good as being a brother," Legg, vice president of the club said.

Dylan McKenna, of Springettsbury Township, a member of the 2nd Brigade Motorcycle Club, recalled that people had come out of stores along the route from Glatfelter Funeral Home to see the motorcade. It was led by the York City Police Department.

Legg was happy they could help.

"It's more of an honor on us that the family allowed us to be a part of this adventure," he said.

Member Mike Grimm, of Hallam, shared similar thoughts.

"It was a ride that was befitting of him," he said.

McKenna remembered Ayden as "selfless."

"He was always concerned about somebody else," he said.

Legg remembered the impact Ayden had on the organization.

"It put us at ease that he could make us smile half as much as we made him smile," he said.

Ayden's maternal grandparents, Bonnie Zeigler and Charlie Mohon, remembered their grandson as "special."

"He was our precious little man," Mohon said.

Chandra Springerand and her husband Ed of Windsor Township listen during a Celebration of Life Service Ayden Zeigler-Kohler at Utz Arena Saturday, April 1, 2017. Ayden died after battling cancer for several months. About 400 people attended the service. Bill Kalina photo

Mohon was wearing a black T-shirt which said "Best Friends: Grandpa and Grandson" on it.

"He called him Pop," Zeigler said.

Zeigler's black T-shirt read "Ayden 4 Ever." The two said they appreciated the large turnout and support for their grandson, but they would have preferred a smaller event.

Kohler finished the service by addressing the crowd and thanking them for being there.

"The takeaway from here today in your own lives (is) don't waste it — live it," he said.

Ayden's celebration of live was livestreamed, and the video can be viewed here.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.