Nolan Weber is pictured with his mother, Rachelle Weber.
The Weber family sporting their "I Got This" shirts, from left, Rachelle, Colten, Nolan and Dean.
Memories and memorabilia from Nolan's life were on display at the event, including many sports trophies and awards he received.
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Friends and family remember courage and faith at Nolan Weber Celebration of Life

by Elane Moonier Staff Reporter

It was a party that a father and son had agreed on earlier, one in which the whole town would be invited, and one that would celebrate the life and birthday of Nolan Weber, a courageous young man who lived three years with brain cancer before passing from this life in December of last year.

“Nolan would have said, ‘Let’s get the party started!’” Rachelle Weber, his mother, told the filled auditorium at the Jackson High School Events Center on April 30, as she welcomed those in attendance. “It is so heartwarming to see so many here on Nolan’s 19th birthday,” she said.

Bordering the room were tables filled with memories from Nolan’s life, including many sports trophies and awards for his athletic abilities, photographs, and a multitude of other memorabilia. There were also tables with information about the newly formed Nolan Weber Foundation and several projects for the new organization. Tables of homemade pastries and refreshments were available for the guests.

Music throughout the evening was organized by Josh Hensley and Christy Shinn of First Baptist Church in Jackson, and the Jackson High School Choir.

Fellow students of Nolan, family, friends and members of the community gathered to celebrate and talk about the role Nolan had played in their lives. Nolan’s baseball and soccer coaches spoke about his determination and strong faith throughout his illness, and said if they could speak to him they would tell him what a great job he had done and give him a big hug.

Mike Marchi, coach for the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club, said that he became acquainted with Nolan when the youngster was 12 years old and was “sure he is smiling upon us today.” He described him as a disciple in Christ. “Nolan was always the smallest soccer player but was always talking about how he could beat the other team. Like a quarterback, he was always adjusting his game,” Marchi said.  “He left us so much. He taught us to believe. He was baptized in Christ, put all his trust in Jesus Christ and believed. He was stronger than I have ever seen him, and he never complained. He did not talk about quitting or giving up.”

Marchi said that when “this big city St. Louis man” first came to Jackson to help out, he was so amazed to see the ‘We Believe’ signs all over town. “Look what God has done with an 18-year-old boy in this community,” he said. Marchi recalled that Rachelle had asked Nolan if he was scared.  Nolan had said, “For you, Colten (his brother), and Dad, yes, but not for me. I know where I am going, and it is a wonderful place.”

Family friend and youth sports coach Mike Scott said he first crossed paths with Nolan when he was eight or nine years old. “He always competed with a smile on his face,” he said, “and he always gave 100 percent. I never saw him get tired.”  Scott said he introduced Nolan to table tennis when he was no longer able to compete in contact sports because of his brain cancer. Nolan’s competitive skills earned him a spot on the USA  Junior National Para Table Tennis Team in a very short time. Scott said that Nolan’s legacy will continue to live on.

Steven Porzelt, fellow baseball player and friend, said that Nolan inspired him to believe. “You don’t always get what you want in life, but you have to keep fighting and believe as Nolan did,” he said. “Not a day goes by that me and the baseball boys are not thinking about him.”

Teacher Cindy Lawson said that Nolan taught her to believe that anything is possible. “He has touched so many lives, not only in Jackson, but far beyond,” she said.

Among the guests was Southeast Missouri Red-hawks Coach Dickey Nutt, who told this reporter he first met Nolan in 2010 when he came to sit on the bench at the ball game with young cancer victim Brody Gard, who was an Honorary Coach that day.

“Nolan hung out with the team, and we had such a good time,” Nutt said. When Nolan was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and became ill, some of the team players went with Nutt and his son to visit him at the Weber home. “He was such a remarkable young man, and we had a big night with him. He had such a wonderful spirit.”

Lucas Clabough, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, spoke about some of the stories that Nolan had written, and read parts of his essay ‘What Would You do?,’ which earned the 2011 Andre Sobel second place award.  “Nolan lived with courage and enthusiasm,” he said. “He had the courage to believe and live his life differently.  Happiness is a choice, and Nolan chose to be happy. “ He recalled that Nolan had told him, “God has a plan to use me and my story to motivate far more people than I could otherwise.”

Colten Weber, age 15, said that his brother had inspired him to believe. “He taught me to live life to the fullest,” he said. “I love you Nolan and miss you a lot.”

Dean Weber recalled his conversation with Nolan. “I told him when God heals him, we would have a party. He is, in fact, healed now, and we are having this party.” He spoke briefly about the difficulties and sickness that Nolan went through during the three years of his illness, “which stole his dreams and his future. Yet he seemingly was always smiling. He was determined to not let cancer define him. No one knows how much pain and suffering he went through every day. He hid it, but he never hid his smile or his faith.”

“We couldn’t be prouder of him. We could live a thousand life times and never make the impact he has,” Dean stated. “In his darkest time, Nolan told the doctors, ‘It’s all right. God’s got this.’”

Dean talked about the newly-formed Nolan Weber Foundation, which is called ‘Believing Beyond.’ He said the name was chosen because it means “believing beyond what you can see, hear, touch and what you are told, turning everything over to God and trusting him completely.”

The Foundation’s purpose is to provide financial and/or spiritual/emotional support to children and their families battling cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. The Foundation will also strive to make a positive difference in the lives of youth by providing scholarships, faith-based activities, improvements to religious, public and school based facilities. The Foundation will also provide grants or donations to medical facilities focused on finding a cure, or improving treatments in children with brain cancer.

Plans were also announced to build a new wiffleball field in Nolan’s honor, which will be called Believers Ball Park.  The field will be funded through contributions.

Immediately following the celebration, guests assembled at the resting place of Nolan to release balloons and lighted lanterns into the twilight sky as a tribute.

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