St. Joe High mourns the death of one of its most loyal sons

St. Joe High School is mourning the loss of one of its most loyal sons.

Jon Bajdek, who graduated from St. Joe in 2003, passed away on Friday at the age of 27. He had battled Cystic Fibrosis his entire life.

NewsCenter 16 featured Bajdek nine years ago when he was a senior at St. Joe. He was 18-years-old at the time, which was his life expectancy when he was born.

But he Jon was living out one of his biggest dreams as a member of the Indians football team.

"i just tell them it's just a little thing," Bajdek explained to NewsCenter in 2002 about playing with Cystic Fibrosis. "I don't really worry about it. I pretend I don't have it sometimes."

And Jon didn't play the part of someone with Cystic Fibrosis on the field. Current St. Joe head coach Ben Downey was Jon's position coach nine years ago.

"His feet were as quick as anybody's," Downey said Sunday. "He was as athletic as anybody. The only difference was that he was smaller than everybody."

Jon's always stayed connected to St. Joe. In fact, he's considered by many to be one of their most loyal fans. For the last several years he's served as an assistant baseball coach.

"He is St. Joe High School," head baseball coach and assistant Athletic Director John Gumpf said Sunday. "He lived for it. He wanted everything to do it with it."

Everyone at St. Joe will miss Jon dearly.

"When you lose a person like that," Gumpf started to explain trying to find the right words. "I'll think about him all the time. Every time we get ready for that first pitch, every time we go out on the baseball field."

"I think he had a really really good sense of humor," Downey says. "And i think a lot of times that came out when he was just bantering back and forth with people and pulling pranks on people. He made life fun."

And both say the first thing they think of when they think of Jon is his smile. Downey says in 20 years of knowing Bajdek, he can't remember a day seeing him without that smile.

A memorial visitation will be held on Monday from 2-8 p.m. at Kaniewski Funeral Home on Bendix in South Bend. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Holy Cross Catholic Church in South Bend.

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