Hun­dreds bid farewell to Devin Scul­lion

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - Jon Wells The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor jwells@thes­pec.com 905-526-3515 | @jon­jwells

It was fu­ne­real and cel­e­bra­tory, held in a cathe­dral of sorts in Mount Hope, one that pays homage to heroic fight­ing in the heav­ens.

Many who at­tended dressed darkly, but with splashes of gold, and they both cried and smiled re­mem­ber­ing a man who was both very young and very old.

The pow­er­ful para­dox that was Devin Scul­lion was on dis­play Satur­day, when per­haps more than 500 peo­ple filled a large por­tion of the War­plane Her­itage Mu­seum for a memo­rial in his hon­our.

Devin had a rare ge­netic dis­or­der that causes rapid ag­ing and died at home in east Hamil­ton two weeks ago at 20 years old.

Those stand­ing far away in the back rows of the cav­ernous hangar — one of Devin’s favourite places to visit — had to strain to hear words from speak­ers at the mi­cro­phone, who remembered his pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, sense of hu­mour, and courage.

But they could clearly see the com­po­sure and strength on the face of his long­time friend Amy Kitch­ener, as she de­scribed him as “car­ing, kind, charm­ing and so full of life.”

Devin was di­ag­nosed with Hutchin­son-Gil­ford proge­ria syn­drome, a con­di­tion that af­flicts as few as 400 chil­dren world­wide.

Pa­tients with the dis­or­der are prone to heart dis­ease and stroke, and on av­er­age do not live past 13 years old.

By the age of six, he had al­ready suf­fered two strokes that caused tem­po­rary paral­y­sis.

In pic­tures his ap­pear­ance in some re­spects was that of some­one who has aged greatly, but he also never grew larger than a child.

And yet he made it all through grad­u­a­tion at Car­di­nal New­man high school, us­ing a small walker to get around. And he took Amy to the grad dance.

Friends and fam­ily say he was of­ten in pain, but never com­plained or lamented his fate.

Amy, who is a stu­dent at Mo­hawk Col­lege, said that of all the words to de­scribe him, the one she thinks of most is “fighter.”

Ap­pro­pri­ately, a ta­ble fea­tur­ing pic­tures of Devin sat in front of a replica of a Bri­tish Spit­fire fighter air­craft on loan to the mu­seum from Ot­tawa.

“He would just say, ‘I’m mov­ing on, I’m go­ing to beat it,’ and he did, for 20 years,” said Amy. “As he would say, he kicked proge­ria’s butt.”

Many who at­tended wore black but also gold: the colours of the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats, be­cause Devin was a pas­sion­ate fan of the team. In a few pic­tures in the memo­rial slide show he was pos­ing with the Grey Cup. Ti­cats coach Ken Austin was among those on hand.

Other pic­tures from Devin’s life showed his small frame be­ing lifted lov­ingly in the air, hoisted onto the shoul­ders of foot­ball play­ers, a po­lice chief.

But if one thing rang clear at the memo­rial, it was Devin who lifted up ev­ery­one he got to know.

“He was the type of kid who touched a lot of hearts,” said his aunt, Tammy Eve­lyn. “And he ap­pre­ci­ated ev­ery day. He used to say that all the time, he was grate­ful for ev­ery one of them, be­cause he didn’t know when he was go­ing to go.”

A choir from Car­di­nal New­man per­formed and Fa­ther Ian Duffy from St. Ann’s church in An­caster presided.

Af­ter the ser­vice, Devin’s mother, Jamie Madley, tire­lessly greeted peo­ple in a long re­ceiv­ing line that was some 200 deep.

“He touched even more peo­ple than we re­al­ized,” said Jamie’s sis­ter, Rachel. She said her sis­ter was over­whelmed by it all, but that she would meet ev­ery per­son in line.

“Oh yes. Ev­ery­one loves her. And ev­ery­one loved Devin.”

It hap­pened early on Sun­day morn­ing, Jan. 22. Devin, who lived with his mom, dad, and sis­ter, suf­fered a heart at­tack. His mom held him as he took his last breath.

Duffy said that most peo­ple cling to the no­tion that life only has mean­ing with wealth, sta­tus, looks, great health.

“Devin did not have any of these things. Yet he made a dif­fer­ence in each of your lives.”

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Jamie Madley smiles as she watches a slide show about her son’s life at his memo­rial ser­vice at the Cana­dian War­plane Her­itage Mu­seum.

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Devin was a huge fan of the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats. Ti­cats coach Kent Austin at­tended the memo­rial.

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