Hundreds of friends, family members, fellow students and teachers attended a candlelight vigil in honor of Michael Miyamoto at the Ken Gunn Stadium Friday night. The vigil was held by Walnut High School alumni and best friends, Katherine Chung and Jason Adauto.
Chung, currently a student at UC Berkeley, and other friends, some wearing T-shirts honoring Miyamoto’s memory, expressed their sorrow at the passing of the Walnut High graduate who died last Thursday after a prolonged battle with leukemia. He was first diagnosed at age 7 and he was a fixture at Diamond Bar and Walnut Relay for life events.
Andy Schultz, activities director at Walnut High, told the assembled crowd of mourners, “I think the best way to honor Michael is by trying to be like Michael. Let’s honor him by living our lives the way he did."
“You all go to the [football] games, I want you to think about this and I want you to think about him whenever you hear this,” said Schultz while leading a cheer of "Walnut Mustangs."
Former classmates and friends spoke about summer trips, memories, and of events experienced with Miyamoto. They painted a picture of a happy go-lucky young man who was content with the simple pleasures of life, such as playing games with friends.
“Michael lived his life with such vitality you would have never guessed he’d been battling Leukemia since second grade,” said Chung, “He made the best of every situation. He was the person who appreciated life more than anyone I’ve ever known. He will be a part of us forever in our memories, in our hearts and in our prayers.”
Michael’s sister, 21-year-old Jaclyn, said the support from the community has been a constant source of strength for the Miyamoto family.
“It’s been incredible," she said. "We definitely would not have been able to get through it without it. People have been so amazing, they make it a lot better and easier to get through each day knowing people I don’t even know or who didn’t even know Michael personally wrote messages and letters talking about how he’s impacted them, it’s unbelievable.”
Miyamoto, a student at UCSD, said her brother’s legacy will be the effect he had on other people.
“Live life to the fullest, be strong. Change lives if you can touch one person, that will make a difference, he’s story is so inspiring, I learned everything from him. It’s an inspirational story,” she said.
Memorial services were held today at St. Lorenzo Catholic Parish Community in Walnut.
In lieu of flowers, the Miyamoto family respectfully requests that donations be made to City of Hope (866)683-4673 in Michael’s memory.