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Boy’s Life Ends, Inspiration Lives On

Cody with his family and coffee farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico

Cody Day lived out his 15.5 years on North Laguna’s Noria Street, inspiring neighbors down the street as well as folks he never met around the world.  His mom, Dallas Day said, “he touched people like the ripples of a pebble in the pond.”

Diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2005, Cody passed away last week at home among family and friends.

“I am extremely saddened that his time on earth was so short, as I feel like I have lost one of my best friends,” said Cody’s neurosurgeon, Michael Muhonen, who described his patient coping “with inexorable strength” through multiple surgeries and other physically painful experiences to fight an aggressive, diffusely metastatic brain tumor. Even so, “Cody never lost his smile or his passionate kindness,” said the doctor, who promised that the Children’s Hospital of Orange County staff will continue to pursue a cure for brain tumors with the same enthusiasm Cody had for life.

Indeed, Cody could “milk life,” as his father, Dave Day, said. Cody was always on the go, hanging out with boys on his street, skim boarding and surfing with cousins and uncles, off-roading with family friends. Make-a-Wish Foundation built a skateboard ramp in his backyard and car enthusiasts of the Motive Club honored him with a tricked out Jeep Wrangler. The family put both to good use. When his disease progressed, Cody maintained his charm.

Thurston Middle School principal Joanne Culverhouse, who visited Cody even after he graduated last year, said “Cody Day had an amazing outlook on life and his sense of humor, wit, and ability to say the right thing at the right time could make you laugh and keep you laughing throughout the day. He was a gift to everyone he met and moved us all to a new place of consciousness. He will be missed.”

Cody learned to help others, a lesson he lived out by welcoming new CHOC patients, cooking Thanksgiving supper for day laborers, or traveling with his parents to Mexico’s coffee growing regions.

The Days founded Growers First, a Laguna Beach-based organization that helps Latin America coffee farmers achieve economic sustainability. “Now, as we continue that work, Cody will continue to travel with us in our hearts,” said board member and local resident David Vanderveen. “He is the new patron saint of Growers First, St. Cody of Coffee. We love and miss him deeply.”

The Day family, who are active members of Laguna’s Little Church by the Sea, would be quick to say that their son’s strength and optimism sprang from faith, that all things work together for good, and that he was loved and prayed for by many.

In fact, his journey traveled far and gained a following, spanning the coffee farmer’s children in Mexico to orphans with HIV-AIDS in Malawi where his grandparents serve. Emails, calls and postings have flooded into the family by the hundreds. 

“Cody and the Day family have been an inspiration to our whole church,” said Pastor Brad Coleman.  “I can’t imagine a family moving through a challenge like this with more grace, peace, trust, courage, and clear perspective. Cody’s heart and character grew in stature far beyond his years, in fact far beyond what most people attain in a lifetime. He exemplified Paul’s words in II Corinthians 4:16 “… though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” He was one of the most remarkable young men I have ever known.”

Charitable gifts may be made in memory of Cody to Growers First at www.growersfirst.org or to CHOC at www.CHOC.org

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