The Rev. Scott Lashbrook, a youth pastor at Lakeshore Assembly of God in Westfield, also serves as an assistant football coach for the Westfield-Brocton Wolverines.
Today, he will stand before a grieving community and officiate the funeral services for Brocton junior Damon Janes.
Lashbrook got the fortunate opportunity to get to know Janes over the past month through football. And while he didn't get to know Janes like he would have liked to, he has learned more and more this past week as he has been by the family's side.
OBSERVER Photo by Sean Pecuch
A Fredonia varsity student wears the number 25 decal on his helmet Friday. All varsity football players in Chautauqua County wore #25 decals in memory of Damon Janes.
"He was a character," Lashbrook said. "Now I'm getting to hear stories from his parents and from being at the hospital with the family. These stories are of a young man who lived life to the fullest. If someone was down, he would bring them home and give them a hug. Whether he was playing sports or hanging with friends, he enjoyed life. I would love to surround myself with 100 of those. He was a happy kid. He carried a smile around that could light up a room. I wish I got to know him better. He was a special kid, a different young man. Too soon, too quick."
When Lashbrook speaks today, he will speak about the celebration of life and how Janes lived life to the fullest. He will ask all in attendance to carry on Janes' legacy.
"If you see a problem in school, you be the one to go give the hug and you spread joy like he did," Lashbrook said. "I will talk about the commitment to life - carry it on and live life. Spread love. I heard stories about Damon and his hugs, and how it would take your breath away."
The death of Janes has impacted both Westfield and Brocton, and though many are still grieving, Lashbrook has seen the community come together in a positive light over this tragedy.
"You put a need out there, and it's met," he said. "People from America and Canada want to donate money to the family. I've never seen anything like this. As hard as it has been and emotional as it has been, this young man has changed my life. It's a horrible tragedy. I have seen change and a lot of good things. If this community can stick together and lend support for each other and be there, and continue that, this community will never be the same."
The funeral will take place today at the Lakeshore Assembly of God at 11 a.m. Due to the fact the church may not be able to accommodate everyone, there will be a satellite feed of the funeral at West Portland Baptist Church.
Due to high winds, Friday night's scheduled event to light and release sky lanterns at Brocton High School was postponed. The event has been rescheduled to tonight at 8 p.m. The lanterns can be purchased for $3 each, with proceeds benefiting the Janes family.
Comments on this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org