Dustan Colyer, founder of DC Strong, dies of cancer

Dustan Colyer

A Plainwell man who made it a mission to brighten the lives for fellow pediatric cancer survivors through his foundation, DC Strong, has died on Wednesday.

Dustan Colyer was 23 and the reaction to is passing is widespread, especially in his hometown. Newschannel 3's Mike Krafcik reported in front of the DC Strong office, which opened a few months ago.

Colyer's mother confirmed his death Wednesday night on Facebook and wrote, “We lost a gift that can't be replaced. Our warrior. Our angel.”

DC Strong has its own office in Plainwell, a place where kids who have benefited by the organization often hung out. Larry Gonzales, one of Colyer’s best friends and co, said having the office was one thing on Colyer’s bucket list.

Gonzales said that Colyer wants DC Strong to continue to carry out its mission.

“After undergoing months of radiation. Last night, Dustan Colyer lost his long-fought battle with a rare kidney cancer, a disease he's dealt with since the age of six.”

Colyer fought the disease for 17 years and did so fiercely.

Gonzalez said, “He had gone through cancer five times. He knew there was a reason he was still here.”

In life, Colyer made it his mission to relate to kids who were going through the same fight.

Colyer said, “We just want kids to be kids.”

Newschannel 3 spoke to Colyer in April at an event organized by DC Strong, the organization he started with three friends to provide personalizes gifts and exciting experiences.

Gonzalez said, “He made it possible to care about something. About people.”

He said the organization has expanded to help several dozens of kids throughout 22 states.

He said, “It wasn't going to be a bunch of a random gifts. It was going to be what the kids wanted and needed. If you're going to do something, you're going to do it right. He'd say that.”

Colyer was a 2012 graduate of Plainwell High School.

Matt Montange, Plainwell Community Schools Superintendent, said, “This young man touched a lot of lives and is an example for other people to follow.”

Today the high school provided grief counselors for students, the Colyer family has other children who attend and works in the Plainwell school system.

Montange said, “Our school district is a big part of the community.”

A community, and world, rattled by the loss.

Hundreds of tributes poured in on social media.

One person wrote, "There are no words to give justice to what an incredible person and fighter you were.”

A visitation for Colyer will be held between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Mon., Oct. 16 and a service will be held on Tue., Oct. 17 at 11 a.m. Both will be held at Radiant Church in Richland.

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