Community remembers Riley HS grad who died suddenly

Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 9:19 PM EST
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Mason Kendall, an athlete and Riley High School graduate, died unexpectedly from what is being called an autoimmune attack on his central nervous system.

Kendall's death was so unexpected because he was improving, and doctor's had high hopes he would recover.

16 News Now talked to some of his former coaches and a lifelong friend who say Kendall was a leader and an all-around great young man.

You can find picture after picture of the 22-year-old Kendall on a wall at Riley High School.

Former coaches say Kendall was an incredible athlete. He ran cross country and played baseball and was considered a 'city champion'.

But his legacy is far greater than sports. People describe him as someone who always watched out for others, led by example and taught people how to live.

"So kind," former cross-country coach Kristen Haubold said. "Kind and welcoming and just made the team feel like a home for the boys on the team. He was a great leader and a funny guy."

"Always liked to laugh and you couldn't be in a room without there being something funny going on," former baseball coach Greg Harris said. "Because Mason was that kid that wanted to laugh and have fun."

A lifelong friend says mason had an encouraging spirit.

"I called him my role model because I've just aspired to be like him," Dieter Ruszkowski said.

Just days ago, Kendall unexpectedly died from an autoimmune attack on his central nervous system. He was being treated at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. According to a

, doctors were hoping he would recover.

His death came as a shock to many in the community

"I got an email from Principal [Shawn] Henderson that he had passed away pretty unexpectedly in the night," Haubold said.

"I just didn't believe it and the shock just went through my body, and I just broke down and started crying just right then and there," Ruszkowski said.

"I just had to go home because I wasn't going to be able to stay composed and teach my classes," Haubold said.

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