A 17-year-old Kennewick boy never got his wish to serve in the military but he will be buried in his uniform.
Alfredo Barajas, the terminally ill Kamiakin High School student whose plight inspired students and others in the Tri-Cities to help, died Thursday morning.
The 17-year-old, who suffered from a chronic cardiac condition most of his life, died at 6:40 a.m.
"He was able to talk on Monday but went down from there," said school nurse Pam Kirkpatrick.
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Alfredo leaves behind his mother, Maria Barajas of Kennewick, and siblings Luiz, 15, Gustavo, 10, and Elizabeth, 4.
Kirkpatrick and Kamiakin counselor Maria Buxbaum have been helping Alfredo's mother with funeral plans and his care.
"Maria and I were there in his last hours," Kirkpatrick said. "The hospice chaplain gave him last rites, then we had to leave and his mom was there -- alone with him the last hour."
Kirkpatrick and Buxbaum became close to the Barajas family in recent months when they learned Alfredo wasn't going to survive his aortic aneurysm.
His mother sought advice from Buxbaum and Kirkpatrick on how to pay for funeral and burial expenses, and that was when a leadership class at Kamiakin got involved.
Within hours, students were out on the streets setting up donation cans at various businesses. And they organized fundraising drives at basketball games.
The community also stepped up with donations of food, hospital equipment, money, even burial plots.
"The response was amazing," Kirkpatrick said. "The kids really took this cause and ran with it."
Students raised $6,000. Another $1,080 went into a memorial fund at Hillcrest Memorial Center in Kennewick, and the congregation at First Presbyterian Church in Kennewick donated $1,000.
"There's enough that his mother will be able to pay for the funeral, cemetery and headstone," Kirkpatrick said. "All costs for the funeral will be covered."
Military members and law enforcement officers also mobilized to help Alfredo with his one wish -- to be a soldier.
They gathered a camouflage military uniform, a variety of military hats, pins and coins, a banner featuring his name, items from the police department and an American flag for him.
On Jan. 14, military service members visited him and made Alfredo an honorary drill sergeant.
"He'll be buried in that military outfit. He was so incredibly proud of it," Kirkpatrick said.
Three families donated cemetery plots, and one offer included two adjacent plots.
"That's the one his mom chose so that he would not be buried alone, away from his family," Kirkpatrick said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Hillcrest Memorial Center in Kennewick is in charge of arrangements.