GATEWAY, Fla. - An outpouring of support for a Gateway family after their young son was killed during a boating accident in the keys over the weekend.
Michael Duda was just 11 years old when his life ended so suddenly on a family vacation. The impact this young man had is evident by visiting his neighborhood, and a memorial service Tuesday night.
"Michael was a wonderful, wonderful boy," said family friend and spokesman Ray Sarracino. "The ripple of his life is being felt in so many areas."
A line of family and friends stretched around Lee Memorial Gardens to bid farewell to Duda.
"The outpouring of support and love and kindness has just been phenomenal over the past 72 hours," Sarracino said.
Faith played a major role in young Michael's life. Now, near the church he attended with his family, a quiet show of love: blue ribbons tied to trees in the family's Gateway neighborhood.
"(We) tried to find out who it was, we just know it was children. Michael's favorite color was blue," Sarracino said. "He had this amazing ability, this uncanny ability to sense pain or discomfort in other people and try to do something about it. For a little boy, of 11, to have that sensitivity and awareness of the world around him is just profound."
That same sensitivity and sympathy is now being given back to Michael's family, at the time they need it most.
"The family has no doubt where he is right now. He's with the Lord."
A memorial fund has been set up at Gateway Trinity Lutheran Church, 11381 Gateway Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33913.