‘Tell your children you love them – every day’

Posted at 4:08 PM, Oct 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-16 18:35:15-04

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va.(WTVR) - The father of the Caroline High School student who died after collapsing in gym class offered some poignant advice for other parents.

Thomas, Thomas II and Janifer Wheeler (Family Photo)

Thomas, Thomas II and Janifer Wheeler (Family Photo)"

"Tell your children you love them every day. Wrap your arms around them and tell them you love them," Thomas Wheeler said. "We thought Tommy was going to come back after school, but he didn't."

Thomas "Tommy" Wheeler II's sudden death has hit both the Wheeler family and the Caroline community hard.

"They're confused, they are hurting," Caroline High School principal Jeff Wick said about his students. "They have lost a classmate. They have lost a friend."

Thomas Wheeler signA crisis team made up of grief counselors and area pastors is in place talking to students in an attempt to help them through the grieving process, Wick added.

Fifteen-year-old Tommy, described by family as quiet, but funny, dreamed of studying business and playing football at the University of Virginia.

He loved LeBron James, his dad said, and could not break away from the television when the Miami Heat played.

Thomas Wheeler said his son recently passed a physical exam in order to play high school basketball. He said doctors found no warning signs that would have predicted what happened Tuesday.

team_thomasTommy collapsed after running wind sprints in gym class. He later died at the hospital.

"I just want to know why," Thomas Wheeler said about his son's death. "But everything is in God's hands. Our plan is not God's plan, so I'm just trusting him."

Wick said Caroline High students planned to wear blue to school on Thursday to honor Wheeler's memory.