SARANAC, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds gathered Wednesday to honor the life of a boy who died after collapsing during football practice in Saranac last week.
“I think he really would have felt the love,” Saranac Public Schools Superintendent Jason Smith told reporters after the funeral. “I’m sure Skylar felt that love everyday but that love and appreciation really came through today.”
In the days following Skylar’s death, his family has received an outpouring of support from the community, including University of Michigan Football Head Coach Jim Harbaugh who tweeted the following Wednesday:
“Most definitely the hardest part is our students and the grief that those two parents feel right now,” Smith said. “It’s hard for teenagers to work through this.”
Smith said around 800 people showed up for the funeral at Saranac Junior/Senior High School. Attendees said the eulogy drew plenty of tears but there were also moments of laughter.
The service captured the essence of Skylar’s life, Smith said.
“His energy, his excitement, his personality, athleticism, his involvement all of those things are what we loved about Skylar,” Smith said. “He was just full of energy and full of life.”
Those attending the funeral were greeted with a long line of football players wearing jerseys, standing shoulder to shoulder as a show of solidarity in support.
Some who attended did not know Skylar but were touched by his story. Cory and April Malone attended the funeral with their two young children in tow.
Cory Malone said he hoped the presence of so many people provided “assurance (to Skylar’s loved ones) that there’s people there to stand with them in their tough times and that they’re not alone through it all.”
“The community really came around them and surrounded them with love,” April Malone said.
Skylar’s classmates are experiencing the loss of a friend at an early age. Superintendent Smith said he hopes they’re also learning.
“That teachable moment is to wrap yourself around each other. That’s what they can take out of this more than anything right now, is that there are really good people around here,” Smith said. “In this world of anxiety and frustration, this community has come together so much and there’s just been so much love. We believe that that is our job to do … to continue to convey that love and show that there are really good people in this world and it’s a great place to be.”