North America

U.S. Hundreds come out to mourn boy who died from amoeba

Visitors to Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle, Fla., gather around the casket at the funeral for Zachary Reyna on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, who died from a rare brain-eating amoeba.(Photo: Jack Hardman, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press)LaBELLE, Fla. — In LaBelle, Fla., lies a boy whose family said changed the world.
 
Zachary Reyna, 12, was buried Saturday near trees covered in Spanish moss, next to World War II veterans and headstones older than his time on Earth. Under a summer sun, hundreds circled his grave at Fort Denaud Cemetery. One by one, they lowered their heads and let Zachary go. Overhead, cicadas sang in unison, making sounds that resembled a rush of wind through the branches.
 
Zachary died Aug. 24 after an almost monthlong battle with an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba. He contracted the parasitic infection, known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, while knee-boarding, a sport similar to water skiing, in a water-filled channel Aug. 3 near his family's home about 30 miles east of Fort Myers, Fla.
 
He had been in a Miami hospital since then battling for his life. Antibiotics defeated the infection Aug. 21, but Zachary's family acknowledged online that it was a small victory because of the amount of damage his brain suffered.
 
At the service, crowds held hands and prayed for Zachary. Strangers and friends lifted their eyes to the sky with faith.
 
"I've never seen a service like this for anybody," said Pastor Carl Daley of First Apostolic Church in Cape Coral, Fla., who prayed with the family when Zachary first got sick. "He was lively and fun-loving. Joyful."
 
It's also was not about the way he died. It was the way he lived that touched lives.
 
He had been in a Miami hospital since then battling for his life. Antibiotics defeated the infection Aug. 21, but Zachary's family acknowledged online that it was a small victory because of the amount of damage his brain suffered.
 
At the service, crowds held hands and prayed for Zachary. Strangers and friends lifted their eyes to the sky with faith.
 
"I've never seen a service like this for anybody," said Pastor Carl Daley of First Apostolic Church in Cape Coral, Fla., who prayed with the family when Zachary first got sick. "He was lively and fun-loving. Joyful."
 
It's also was not about the way he died. It was the way he lived that touched lives.

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