Column: Remembering Gage Roper, the fighter

Published 1:56 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

It is not every day that something affects me longer than a few minutes. I have always been one to shake things quickly and not let them dictate my mood for the rest of the day or week. However, this week has not been one of those cases.

When I heard the news of little Gage Roper’s passing on Tuesday it struck me differently, and made me feel many different emotions. I was first struck with sadness for the family, then anger because why him, and finally thankfulness for ending all of his pain and suffering.

I met Gage one time on Feb. 26 when the West Chilton Fire Department made him an honorary firefighter. He had stopped treatment by then, and was enjoying being a kid for a few months. I spoke to his mother who talked about Gage as a hero, and spoke about the strength he has shown throughout his life after his diagnosis. When we were speaking, Gage came running up to the table to ask his mother, “What are you doing?”

“Telling the newspaper about how much of a hero you are,” she responded.

Gage responded with “I know!”

That small interaction stuck with me, and when I heard about his passing, that night came flooding back into my mind. He was so still full of life, and he knew how to brighten whatever room he was in. I am thankful I was able to meet the hero, and I was thankful I was able to do my job and get a story on the front page of Gage happy and gleeful — how everyone should remember the little guy.

I chose the photo to go with this column because I thought it encapsulates Gage perfectly. Although he was sick, you would never know it. He had a smile on his face, and that night at the fire station, he was so proud, so happy and so him.

Cancer is a sinister, cruel and awful disease that thankfully I have not experienced in my loved ones, but it did take the life of a young man who I knew when I was in early high school. He was a tremendous athlete, student and friend to a lot of people, and one day, it all came crashing down for him. Gage’s situation reminded me a lot of Matt — a young boy who should be out learning what his favorite things are rather than dealing with this sickness. Now both are watching over everyone they came in contact with and made an impact on, pain free and full of joy. For that, I think we can all be thankful for.

I hope this past week has been full of people reminiscing on Gage and sharing positive memories about the little hero. I cannot wait to see how he is remembered in the community for years to come, because I know he impacted many lives in Chilton County and they will want to keep his legacy going strong.

Everyone at The Clanton Advertiser offers their thoughts and prayers to the Roper family, and we will all miss Gage dearly.