MUSKEGON, Mich.— It was a school field day that ended in tragedy three years ago. A little boy was on the swings when he accidentally inhaled a piece of gravel, which blocked his windpipe. Today, the family continues to struggle with the loss of their six-year-old son, but they’ve come up with a positive way to share his memory.
Nikolas Wypa passed away on June 4, 2012, and since then his mother, Lisa, and his father, Dave, hold every memory close. Lisa was the last one to see him that day. She had been volunteering at the school for his field day, and she was by his side when he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“It happened in a split second, and I was the mom who watched over him like a helicopter,” she said.
Lisa said her son loved being active and especially liked playing on the school playground. The last place he would play was on the school yard’s swings. They still are not sure how, but one of the pebbles from the school yard got lodged into Nikolas’s throat.
“I think you’ll never forget about what happened,” said Dave.
The family is now taking Nik’s memory out to the community. The school created a memorial walkway in their recess yard, an archway with handmade butterflies to represent Nik’s “social butterfly” personality.
Nikolas isn’t just being remembered locally, however. His memory is spreading all over the world through his favorite toy: Nik’s family says he was obsessed with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. So now they tie a note to Matchbox cars and leave them wherever they go, and other people are passing them on as they travel throughout the world.
“The card on the cars says ‘This is a gift to you. Please go to the In Loving Memory of Nikolas Wypa Facebook page and let us know where you found it,’” said Lisa.
The Facebook page shows Nik’s cars rolling around The Great Wall of China and places in Canada, Austria, and elsewhere.
“It’s a constant reminder of how he lived his life, the joy he is bringing to kids his age through his favorite toy,” said Dave.
The Wypa family has gone a step further in bringing others joy. They have a scholarship fund in their son’s name. Each year in each elementary school in their district, they give out scholarships to fifth graders who exemplify how Nik lived.
“The teachers who know the kids best at school get together and decide who best represents Nik,” said Dave.
If you want to donate to Nik’s scholarship fund, click here.