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Community mourns death of teen who lived to help others: 'He was one of a kind'

"He left a lasting impression on you.”
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Posted at 1:18 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 18:33:56-05

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, Va. -- You may not see the massive hole in Deltaville. But just ask anyone in town you certainly feel it.

“Whenever Grayson got out of the truck, he had a smile on his face. Without a doubt,” said Susan Shelton. “He is a remarkable kid.”

The pain cuts deepest at the Shelton home.

“He fought every day,” said Mark Shelton. “He was strong.”

Mark and Susan Shelton cling to memories of their only child Grayson. The 16-year-old who lived with serious health issues died suddenly Monday morning after his ailing heart failed.

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“I heard him say to the doctors, the people who were pushing him, we were behind him. 'I see angels. I see angels. That was the last thing I heard him say,'" said Susan.

Grayson’s heart may have been defective, but it was overflowing with love.

“He realized the problems he had and never complained about them. He just dealt with them,” said Mark.

The high school senior embraced life while always living for others.

“Every day 6 a.m. No alarm clocks. He is not your teenager who slept to 10:00 in the morning. Never,” said Susan.

Grayson’s good deeds stretched across Middlesex County and beyond. The volunteer firefighter was a fixture at the station in Urbanna.

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"That seemed to be his forte. He just loved helping people. He always wanted to serve,” said Chief Ray Burch. “He was one of a kind.”

Chief Burch said his young colleague worked as hard as the adults.

“Everyone knew Grayson. Grayson was the one person once you saw him and met him, you never forgot him. He left a lasting impression on you.”

Grayson owned his own landscaping business. If customers couldn’t afford to pay, he’d cut their lawns for free.

“He said I hope one day that when I need help, someone will help me,” said Mark

Austin Lundy witnessed his friend’s generosity daily.

"He is the type of person... he would go in the McDonald’s and pay for the person behind him. He wouldn’t want anyone to know. He is that type of person,” said Austin.

Every Christmas, Grayson would adopt a struggling family at the non-profit Love 4 Kids. He would pay for gifts so children wouldn’t go without.

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“He was doing all of this while we didn’t know the extent of the problems with his heart since birth,” said the non-profit’s Lauren Wood.

"I do feel like Grayson was put on this earth for a reason,” said Susan. “His presence is still here.”

Grayson’s parent’s grief can’t be measured. They take comfort knowing their son impacted so many lives.

"He realized he needed help in life so what would help him was helping others,” said Susan.

The void left by Grayson Shelton’s death is vast. But in his short life, he left Middlesex County a much better place.

"I’m not sure how you get through a loss like this,” said Wood. “We need to honor him. We need to remember him. And we need to do our best to raise more of our children to be like Grayson Shelton.”

Grayson’s funeral service will be held Friday, January 22 at Hermitage Baptist Church.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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