GREENDALE, MO (KTVI)-- The freshman class at Normandy High School held a special Valentine's Day ceremony of remembrance for their fallen classmate, 14-year-old Brandon Whitfield.
Brandon passed away after suddenly collapsing while playing in a basketball game on December 23rd. Inevitable tears of sadness fell as classmates and friends celebrated the life of Brandon Whitfield, but the ceremony brought out another emotion just as important.
"You know I haven't smiled until today," said Rosie Bellamy, Brandon's mother. "And I smiled so hard, my heart feels much lighter, because it was much heavier before."
"It means a lot," agreed Brandon's sister, Mary Bellamy. "I thank them so much, and God bless them. I had chills while they were singing and up there speaking about him."
That was exactly what friends of Brandon's, like Mathew Mitchell, hoped to accomplish by speaking during this ceremony: Giving the family of Brandon Whitfield the uplifting message that Brandon will never be forgotten.
"He was more than a friend to me," Mitchell explained. "He was more like my brother, like family. And his family is our family. It's a family thing. We thought it was the best way to show them we cared."
"Like I told his family," said Ozzie Furlow, another friend. "He is in a better place. I feel sorry for them, but everything's going to be ok."
Brandon's teacher, Alicia Ivory House, agreed. "That was just something essential that we needed to do as a group, as a team, as a family. We needed to celebrate the life of a wonderful young man."
The mayor of Greendale gave Brandon Whitfield's mother a proclamaition, giving Valentine's Day a whole new meaning for the family.
"He has 2 birthdays now," Mary said. "May 20th and Valentine's Day. I have on my hearts for my brother."
"I feel so overwhelmed by all of this love," Rosie added. "I feel so happy. I feel so much better knowing he was loved and cared about."
Rosie Bellamy briefly addressed the freshman class here at Normandy High School, saying that Brandon will live on in the hearts and minds of any student here at Normandy High School that her son left an impression on. She also stressed the importance of Brandon physically helping others live on by being an organ donor.