Hundreds turned out Saturday to celebrate the life of Ethen Richardson, the Mount Pleasant 8-year-old who died from a form of brain cancer last week.
"Through his suffering he touched so many people," Todd Richardson, his father said at the gathering at Awendaw Green. "He sort of put your life in perspective."
His father wiped away a tear and then apologized, saying Ethen would not have wanted any tears.
His mother, Brandy Richardson, agreed.
"There was no sadness, ever, when it came to Ethen," she said. "He was special. Everybody loved Ethen. He got along with everybody all the time."
His positive spirt and ever present smile caught the attention of the nation. He was on television when the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year's Eve.
"He was just infectious; he was always positive," said Liz Potter, a family friend who helped organize the celebration. "We want him to look down (from heaven) and see everybody celebrating."
And celebrate they did. Children played on swings and jump castles, had their faces painted, ate cotton candy. Adults mingled and laughed and hugged and prayed.
Several tables were covered with bacon dishes, since bacon was Ethen's favorite food.
Parker Smith of Mount Pleasant had never tried chocolate-covered bacon, but he did Saturday in honor of Ethen.
"It's really not so bad," he said. He couldn't get his 2-year-old, Annabelle, to touch it.
Several local musicians donated their time, including "American Idol" finalist Elise Testone of Mount Pleasant.
The celebration was to end at dusk with a host of red lanterns floating up into the sky - toward Ethen, according to organizers.
Ethen died after battling an inoperable brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. He was diagnosed last summer, and his battle drew prayers and followers from around the country.
His favorite saying, according to his family, was "This is going to be amazing."
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.
Seeing children playing and having fun is what Ethen Richardson, who died from brain cancer at age 8, would have wanted to see, according to those celebrating his life at Awendaw Green Saturday.×
Ethen Richardson was all smiles when he visited the South Carolina Aquarium earlier this year.×
Ethen Richardson, who died from brain cancer at age 8, would have wanted a celebration rather than a memorial, his parents, Todd and Brandy Richardson, said Saturday at a celebration of his life at Awendaw Green.×
Parker Smith of Mount Pleasant, holding 2-year-old Annabelle, tries a piece of chocolate-covered bacon in honor of Ethen Richardson at Awendaw Green Saturday.×
Emma Wurst, 5, of Mount Pleasant, shows off her balloon animal at a celebration of the life of Ethen Richardson, who died from brain cancer at age 8.×
Several tables were filled with bacon dishes, including chocolate-covered bacon, because Ethen Richardson, who died from brain cancer at age 8, loved it.×