“He wanted to be friends with anyone and everyone”: Community holds game for special needs students in memory of one of their own

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — After losing one of their own, New Hanover High School held a baseball game for all ages and abilities Thursday afternoon. Special needs kids from across the county battered up and showed out in support of their friend, Bryson Furtado.

Bryson made a lasting impact on his fellow classmates. His senior year, he paired special needs students and school athletes together for a baseball game.

“They all had home runs that day,” his parents, Kim and Brian Furtado laughed. They say Bryson purposely dropped balls and jumped out of the way for kids to run the bases. “They all had multiple home runs. A lot of errors.”

Their goal: to have fun, normalize interactions between students of all abilities, and show how much each student was loved.

“He showed them love,” said one of Furtado’s  friends, Aidan Flynn. “It showed them that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re up to or what you’re doing, he wanted to be friends with anybody and everybody.”

Bryson greeted students who crossed home plate with a medal, a hug, and a fist bump.

“And when it all was done,” Kim Furtado remembered, ‘Bryson came up to me and said mom, ‘that was the happiest day of my life.'”

This past January, Bryson died by suicide.

Determined to not forget their friend, hundreds gathered in New Hanover High School’s gym Thursday, cheering on students with special needs, nicknamed Bryson’s Buddies, remembering the former student and baseball player with a game.

“I fell in love with Bryson,” said special needs student, Keandre Marshall, “and still to this day we’re… that he’s always in my heart… and it’s going to be an amazing event.”

And though Bryson’s no longer here, his impact lived on Thursday in every smile, dance move, and home run, hopefully continuing for years to come.

“If they all could come together and accept each other, and love each other, spend time together, I think Bryson would love that,” said Kim Furtado.

“I just hope it’s the first of many.”

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