10-year-old son of local veterans advocate dies


Ayden Zeigler-Kohler, the 10-year-old son of a well-known local veterans advocate, lost his monthslong battle with cancer Wednesday, according to a Facebook post by his father.

"Ayden has passed to a better place, and I would like to thank all those who have supported or followed him," Bill Kohler wrote. "He was my heart and the center of my world, and the love that was real. He was the greatest son I could ask for and the greatest friend a son could be. So many made his time here special, and I believe that he has made many others' time special. Never stop believing in what one can do and do what one can believe in."

Ayden was a student at East York Elementary School. On Wednesday, York Suburban Superintendent Shelly Merkle said students were informed of Ayden's death that morning.

“We had a whole team of counselors and psychologists on site for those students who needed extra support," she said.

The Springettsbury Township boy was first diagnosed with two brain tumors last August after collapsing during football practice.

The community quickly rallied around Ayden under the group "4AydenStrong," which garnered more than 5,000 likes on Facebook.

Benefit for local boy features endless beer tastings, silent auction

Four was Ayden's number on the football team, which meant the world to him, according to his father.

Bill Kohler previously owned the Never Forgotten BBQ restaurant on Eastern Boulevard in Springettsbury Township and has worked on various projects designed to help vets. He is one himself, having served in roles ranging from combat engineer to medic in the Army during the first Gulf War and then again in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.

Ayden Zeigler-Kohler is surrounded by the Central York Panthers football as they pray for him before a home game, Friday, September 2, 2016. John A. Pavoncello

He was in rough shape when he came back to the states a decade ago, with physical, mental and emotional wounds still fresh.

But Ayden's birth re-centered him.

"When he was born, he changed that," Kohler said weeks after the diagnosis. "Now I can't change this for him."

Staff reporter Christopher Dornblaser contributed to this report.