IBERIA, Ohio — Colby Hildreth passed away suddenly March 1, 2017. But the impact he had on those he touched remains present.
“Colby was a part of our Northmor family and taken too soon from us,” Northmor Local Schools posted on its Facebook page last week.
“In honor and remembrance of Colby on his 18th birthday this week, the High School LEAD Team joined in (mother) Tara Shaum’s toy drive for NC4K, which resulted in a $2,000 donation from our local AMVETS Post 87 and five shopping carts of joy delivered to Colby’s family’s porch.”
NC4K is a Columbus-based nonprofit organization that provides support for kids fighting cancer through financial and emotional support and events for play.
A special birthday video also was posted on social media.
‘Alive in a mom’s heart’
Colby was diagnosed and died within 24 hours from acute myeloid leukemia at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“In a mom’s heart, Colby’s still alive,” Shaum said. “This has allowed us to keep him alive through his legacy.”
His obituary described him as “a beautiful 14-year-old who enjoyed the outdoors, sports, animals and playing video games. He will be remembered for his big heart, how he loved to cook for his family and his caring for others above himself.”
Nov. 16 would have marked Colby’s 18th birthday.
“My family and I decided that weekend that the best way to honor him would be to hold a toy drive and a donation for the Morrow County Humane Society,” Shaum said. “Colby loved animals. We took food, treats, litter and a monetary donation to them.”
The school then got involved and held its own toy drive, partnering with the AMVETS. They then delivered two carloads of toys.
When he passed away, the Northmor seventh-grader was a member of the football and powerlifting teams. He was a member of the Pleasant Grove Church of Christ in Mount Gilead, where he was active with the IMPACT youth group.
Colby was a true country boy. His favorite singer was the legendary Johnny Cash.
“His dream was to join the Army and one day live in West Virginia,” Shaum said. “He would tell me, ‘I’m going to take care of you there.’”
He was a member of the Friendly Farmers 4-H group in Morrow County. He enjoyed working on trucks and lawnmowers, fishing, boating, shooting guns, paint-balling, movies, spending time at the lakes, collecting knives and raising chickens.
“So many people still love him and love our family,” Shaum said.
It was his kindness that made him special, she said.
“He was the most kindest kid at age 14 you would ever see. At first he had a terrible time at school. Then when he was in the seventh grade he came out of his awkwardness,” Shaum recalled.
She said she found later that he had many more friends than she had realized.
“He used to tell kids at school who were going through a tough time, ‘Everything will be OK.’ We put that on his stone because that’s how he was,” she said.
Colby combined humor with compassion.
“He never stopped making people laugh. Sometimes he’d get in trouble for being a jokester,” she said. “But he also was an old soul. He could talk to older people for hours about the past.”
Shaum said the outpouring of love from the community “has been amazing. … there aren’t even any words to describe it.”
Colby is survived by his mother Tara Shaum; father Roger Hildreth; sisters Raygen Hunter and Jillian Shaum; stepfather Jeremy Shaum; stepmother Lisa Hildreth; and stepbrothers Dustin Hunter, Darick Hunter and Cory Hunter.