SPRAKERS - Three weeks after his high school graduation, Tylar Zielinski, surrounded by family and friends, died peacefully at home Friday afternoon.
He fought a long battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Today, he was to be given a send-off in a procession from his home to the White Van Buren Funeral Home in Delanson.
Tylar Zielinski talks with Principal David Halloran before the June 23 commencement at Fonda-Fultonville Central School. Tylar succumbed to his illness last week.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Tylar, 20, died from respiratory failure as a result of his disease, according to his family.
When he died, his father, aunt, grandparents and other family and friends were there with him.
"They are all so compassionate, they have been here all week, in and out, endlessly," said Shawn Zielinski, Tylar's father.
"Thousands are mourning my son's loss," he said.
He referred to an outpouring of support he received from the community.
"I'm speechless about how many lives he has changed," Zielinski said.
Tylar graduated June 23 from Fonda-Fultonville Central School, where he went across the stage on a stretcher. He was greeted by a standing ovation from his classmates, family, friends and faculty.
"Tylar was a true gift from God," said Kim Zielinski, Tylar's aunt.
She was sitting next to Tylar when he died.
"He inspired. He touched so many people," she said.
Shawn Zielinski said 2,000 people could show up for the funeral today. The procession from Tylar's home to the funeral home was to be escorted by a local motorcycle club.
"He was like a magnet of life," Kim Zielinski said. "You were drawn to him."
Tylar's disease normally claims people by the time they are 12 years old. Tylar not only beat that prediction, but also doctors' predictions last year of only having three to six months left to live.
"We knew last week when his party was going on here last Saturday for his graduation that he had made a comment about wanting the family together one more time, being able to see everybody he hadn't seen come out," Shawn Zielinski said. "We called friends, we called brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts. They were all there for him and me, and have been there for years."
Tylar Zielinski has been described as selfless by his family, always concerned with others' problems more than his own.
"He always worried about someone else's issues. Anything that was of concern to you was his focus," Kim Zielinski said. "He never focused on himself or his illness. I have no words for what he was. I know he was the heart of anyone he came in contact with."
"Even on his bed, laying there and knowing he was going to take his last breath, he continued to try and smile," Shawn Zielinski said. "He didn't cry, and he didn't complain. He was worried about me and everybody else."
The funeral is scheduled for 4 p.m. today at White-Van Buren Funeral Home in Delanson, Schenectady County. A eulogy to remember him is planned for later this week.
Arthur Cleveland is the Montgomery County reporter for the Leader-Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com