Brain Cancer

Community mourns Army veteran's son whose bucket list went viral

Ayden Zeigler-Kohler was diagnosed with DIPG after collapsing at football practice.

Ayden Zeigler-Kohler was diagnosed with DIPG after collapsing at football practice.  ((Ayden Zeigler-Kohler Fund by Shay Weber - GoFundMe))

The life of 10-year-old Ayden Zeigler-Kohler was celebrated Saturday, as family and friends gathered to remember the boy whose eight-month battle with brain cancer was followed by thousands after his Army veteran father shared his bucket list online.

“He just gave his all and his best,” Jennifer Zeigler, Ayden’s mother, told Fox 43.  “He was my miracle from the beginning.”

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Ayden, who lived in Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and notoriously difficult-to-treat type of brain cancer, after he collapsed at football practice. Initially, it was believed he was suffering from a concussion, but once his motor skills began to deteriorate doctors discovered a tumor in his cerebellum and another in his brain stem, the Statesman Journal reported.

When doctors gave him 8 to 12 months to live, Ayden’s father, Bill Kohler, set out to cram as many life experiences as they could into the remaining time they had left. He started a GoFundMe page and a Facebook page to keep supporters up-to-date on their latest adventures, which included a hunting trip and a meet-and-greet with Ayden’s favorite WWE stars at a show in Hershey.

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On March 22, Kohler, who said that Ayden’s birth saved him from the brink of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), shared that he died.

“To all who have been following Ayden, we have lost our battle today,” Kohler wrote in part. “Ayden has passed to a better place, and I would like to thank all those who have supported or followed him. He was my heart and the center of my world, and the love that was real. He was the greatest son I could ask for, and the greatest friend a son could be.”

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About 400 people gathered at Utz Arena at the York Expo Center on Saturday adorning purple shirts and Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys in support of Ayden, The York Dispatch reported.

“Everything today is from Ayden to the community,” Kohler told the news outlet. “This is what he had asked for.”