Kyle Gaudio knew that his muscular dystrophy would not allow him to live long. Because of that knowledge he wanted to live life with as much gusto as his disease crippled body would allow him.
He attended a real Italian wedding in Italy.
Kyle swam with dolphins in Hawaii.
He enjoyed a cruise to Mexico.
Kyle had a passion for traveling and especially viewing aquariums and zoos.
He even took a helicopter ride.
Then on July 15 he died at the brief age of 16.
MD affects muscles and even attacked Kyle's most important muscle, his heart.
On Saturday, August 10, Greg and Trish Gaudio are inviting Kyle's schoolmates at Central Valley High School and others to remember him with a "Kites for Kyle" kite flying memorial event in Roeding Heights Park near the Gaudio residence. The memorial is slated to start at 11 a.m.
"We're having it in the park right here next to our house because he hated having to be inside and we thought we'd do something outside," said Greg Gaudio. "It's not a religious thing. It's more of just a celebration, I guess you'd say, for his life and we thought maybe that would bring out more youth who may have known him."
Kyle was the recipient of the "Every Student Succeeding" breakfast hosted by the Ceres Unified School District in March 2012. At that time it was mentioned that Kyle told a school staff member: "What I tell myself is this: ‘Life sucks. I have this disease. Now get over it."
A camping trip with other handicapped children brought him to the conclusion that he didn't want to live like he had physical limitations.
"The very first time he went to camp," said Greg, "he came home and said, ‘That's not the way I want to live. Those kids don't do anything. They just sit around and play video games and eat McDonalds and that's not me. I want to go.' And so from that point on we were constantly doing things that he wanted to do. We knew that was taking a toll on his body - he did too."
A year and a half ago the Gaudios went on a trip to Disneyland. Father and son got on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride and in the whips and turns, Kyle's body managed to fling nearly outside the car if it weren't for his dad's grip. When the ride came to a stop, Kyle was laughing hard.
"That was the best ride ever for him," said Greg. "We were explaining to the people there what had happened and they're all just looking at us, shaking their head going ‘You know that's really dangerous.' But he had fun. That's what he wanted. I know those kinds of things took a toll on his heart but that was what he wanted."
Kyle was diagnosed with MD at age 6 but remained active at CVHS where he belonged to clubs and attended AP classes. But the disease was beginning to take its toll.
"It got tough for him because the only thing he could really use is his hands and it was more to move his wheelchair. Aides were actually taking notes for him and stuff. But over his life he did a lot of different things."
Kyle, like his parents, knew that his disease would claim his life at an early age. Greg took off work six months ago to do things and care for his son.
"It was kind of a shock when it was all at once," he said. "We thought it was something else and it turned out it was his heart. We didn't want to see him suffer."
When Kyle suffered from a cardiac episode, the family respected his wishes not to resuscitate him but it was hard. It was also hard to donate his wheelchair and other equipment to the Society for Handicapped Children last week.
"There are other kids who needed some of the things he did who don't have insurance," said Greg Gaudio. "He had a very high-end air bed. It moves you around so you don't get bed sores as bad."
Besides his parents, Kyle leaves behind his sister Erin.