On Nov. 25 the students and faculty members of Virgin Valley Elementary School and supporters of Ethan’s Team held a memorial dedication to Ethan Mendenhall. Ethan, who was 10 years old, passed away on October 28, 2014 after being diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma in October 2009.
The memorial lasted the entire day and included an endurance run in honor of Ethan’s love of P.E. and especially running. Students competed by class in each grade level and the winning classroom gets to hold on to a trophy for the entire school year. Trophies for the memorial run were donated by Charlie and Tatiana Sellner, owners of City Shoppe.
Trophies for the first annual Ethan’s Run went to Ms. Guzman’s first grade, Mrs. Barnum’s second grade, Mrs. Baeza’s third grade, Mrs. Potter’s fifth grade and Mr. Stratton’s sixth grade classes.
A memorial to Ethan was constructed over the past year in the front of the school entrance which includes benches with the words, “Come sit a while” and a shade tree in honor of Ethan’s request that his friends have a place to sit and visit and to remember their friend.
Several of Ethan’s fellow students wrote messages to their departed friend and attached them to balloons. Some of the messages were read at the ceremony. One classmate wrote, “You are the most courageous and kind person I’ve ever met. You are a symbol of bravery and kindness to me and a lot of others too. You were a great friend.” Another friend wrote the message, “I’ve known you since kindergarten and I’ve learned a lot of things from you like to stay strong and to care for other people.”
Ethan’s father, Jeromy Mendenhall, spoke of considerable gratitude for the hundreds of supporters of Ethan’s team in his own tear-filled speech honoring his son’s courage, strength, and endurance as well as his love of life, family and friends during the dedication of Ethan’s memorial area by the school entrance.
In a final gesture to their friend, hundreds of balloons were released into the sky over Mesquite with many containing messages to let their friend know that that his love, strength, courage and endurance will continue to inspire and will never be forgotten and that good memories of Ethan Mendenhall will forever live on in the hearts of those he left behind.