MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Joey Hekkema would have been a junior at Mona Shores High School before he passed away in August from a rare blood disorder.
Joey was also a member of the school’s drum line and the band will honor his life during their performance at Friday’s homecoming game.
Joey’s former teacher and his friends say the teen stayed brave during his sickness. It was the first day of band camp when all of the band members heard the news they had been fearing the most.
“When they told us, it kind of hit us all at once and you could just feel just everyone. Their emotions just stopped and it’s like time stopped,” said Joey’s friend James Huth.
Joey Hekkema was diagnosed with chronic neutropenia at 9 months of age and Hyper IGM Syndrome at two-years-old.
Friends and family had hoped a bone marrow transplant in may would have help turn things around.
“He has always been quiet but very kind, very open. You know when you knew him, you never knew that he was sick because he was incredibly brave all the time and you had no idea what he was dealing with,” said Band Director Jason Boyden.
The school has set up a memorial fund in his honor to help pay for band expenses that other children can’t afford.