Jordan Aron taught his classmates to never give up, an educator said.
BOARDMAN -- Jordan Aron lost his three-year battle with cancer Monday.
The 14-year-old Glenwood Middle School pupil died after surgery at a California hospital. "His heart just gave out," said Nick D'Errico, a Glenwood guidance counselor who spoke to Jordan by phone just hours before he died. "He was just so weak. He lost his battle, but he never stopped fighting."
Jordan had rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that is virtually unheard of among adults, but fairly common among children. The disease attacks tendons, muscles and bone tissue, often with fast-growing tumors.
Glenwood Principal Anthony Alvino announced Jordan's death to pupils Tuesday morning over the public-address system. In his message, Alvino said Jordan "may have taught us far more than we taught him."
Alvino asked pupils to observe a few moments of silence in Jordan's memory. As they moved from their homerooms to their first class of the day, the quiet continued.
"It was almost a silent passage," Alvino said. "Out in the halls, with 700 kids moving around, going to class, you could hear a pin drop."
On Tuesday, some pupils wrote letters to express their feelings about Jordan. D'Errico plans to share some of them with the Aron family. Jordan's struggle made an impression on his fellow pupils.
"I think what he taught them is to never give up," D'Errico said. "He never did give up. I knew Jordan since before he got sick, and his body changed, and he weakened, but his personality remained the same. He was always really positive."
Last week D'Errico worked with Jordan on the boy's schedule for next year's classes. As sick as he was, he continued to look ahead, D'Errico said.
"He was talking to me about what ninth grade would be like. He always wanted to be part of school," said D'Errico, who went to the Aron home to tutor Jordan at times when he was too sick to come to school.
D'Errico came to know the family -- Jordan's parents, Wendy and George, and his sister, Lindsay, a fifth-grader at Glenwood -- well during those visits. Jordan's family gave him plenty of support, D'Errico said.
"They never, ever gave up," D'Errico said. "There was always hope. I think Jordan felt that way too."
Jordan didn't dwell on his illness, D'Errico said. "He loved to watch the cooking channel. He was always interested in what I had eaten that day. If I had salmon, or something that wasn't just meat and potatoes, he would ask me all about. I used to tell him, 'You're going to be a chef one day.'"
Jordan loved baseball and was a Cleveland Indians fan. He loved sports cars, fishing and Adam Sandler. Through an organization that grants wishes to ill children, he met Sandler, and the star continued to keep in touch, D'Errico said.
"He would call and talk to Jordan, just to see how he was doing," D'Errico said. "He'd talk to the whole family. He was so down to earth. I think it really meant a lot to Jordan. He loved Adam."
Jordan's death has given his classmates a chance to put life in perspective and a lesson about taking things for granted, D'Errico said.
"He was too young," D'Errico said. "He was too young to die."