LAURENS, SC (WHNS) — Caps and gowns mark the end of one journey and the beginning of the next. But it’s bittersweet for one Upstate family who lost their son to cancer, just months shy of his graduation.
On Tuesday night, Michael “Tank” Anderson’s mother walked across the Laurens County District 55 High School commencement stage to receive her son’s diploma. The high school senior passed away in February, so close to completing the milestone.
Excitement filled the air at Laurens County High, but there were also heavy hearts.
Tank’s friends said, though, he wouldn’t want them to be sad. He’d want them to celebrate, as if he were there.
“It’s the best day of your life and your friend ain’t here. It’s kind of, an empty heart,” said one friend, Dylan Finley.
“He was here for a reason, and that was to help everybody out and try to lead them in the right direction,” said Finley.
Tank was a straight A honors student, basketball player, classmate and friend. Tevin Jenkins said as his best friend since second grade, Tank showed him, and showed everybody, how to hold themselves at a higher standard.
“It was baffling to me sometimes how he would just go above and beyond everybody else. It just seemed like he had this drive that nobody else had,” Jenkins said.
Tank’s mother, Ava Boyce, described her son as humble, and very into education. She walked across the stage to receive her son’s diploma to a standing ovation. Boyce said that even when he was sick and homebound, he went to school anyway.
David Corley taught Tank honors English in the 10th grade. He called him a “fantastic student,” and realized that it was during that time when Tank’s cancer surfaced.
For two years, Tank battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His mother said the entire community rallied around him, and just as he powered through and stayed positive, his mother now honors his legacy with a scholarship fund for graduating seniors with his same drive.
“He would want them to strive, them to strive for excellence to be the best that they could be,” said Boyce.
Boyce didn’t expect to be able to give any scholarships until next year, but since the Michael “Tank” Anderson Foundation was started a month ago, she has raised enough money to present a scholarship to a young woman who graduated Tuesday.
By Dana Wachter