Pastor Tim Roames has participated in a lot of funerals, but he told the crowd gathered to say goodbye to Choice Taylor that he'd never seen "such an outpouring from a community, from a town, from loved ones as I've seen for this young man."
The service for 17-year-old Taylor, who was struck and killed by a truck Nov. 5 in Des Plaines, was held Saturday at Good News Christian Center in downtown Des Plaines, followed by burial at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Hillside. About 300 people, including many teens, attended the service.
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Gia Maniscalco, the school counselor at Maine West High School for both Choice Taylor and his twin brother, Chance, described Choice as "a big-hearted, generous, good-natured young man who was always helping others; intelligent, talented, well rounded."
The twins were born prematurely in June of 1993, recalled Maniscalco, and their mother, Loreene Taylor, visited the hospital every day until Chance came home in October and Choice was finally released in December.
She chose those names, Maniscalco said, because "at some point in their lives they would have to make their own decisions. They would have a lot of choices to make, and she wanted to make sure they were positive, and they would have many chances."
Maniscalco called the twins "rare gems." The two grew up with different interests and personalities but they shared a strong bond. They both held jobs and intended to graduate early in January.
Choice "embraced those ignored and pushed away by others," said his counselor. She described him as an artistic teen, who loved to draw anime, play video games, help others with their homework and work with computers. He planned to study as a computer technician at Oakton Community College when he graduated, she said.
When he wasn't in school or working, Maniscalco said, his mother knew she could find him at the Des Plaines Public Library.
Victor Novak, Choice's mentor in Project Connect at Maine West, praised him for four qualities: helpfulness, caring, honesty and Christian or moral behavior.
Choice proved young people can make a difference even if they aren't stars in theater productions, starting quarterbacks or student council presidents, said Novak.
"He made a difference in that school," Novak said, "that's a true testimony to Choice and to you, Mrs. Taylor, for the way you raised him."
Mayor Martin J. Moylan said the city lost "a vital young man who should have had a bright future."
After the service, 17-year-old John Gianopoulos said those speaking at the funeral got it right about Choice, whom he had known since second grade.
"He and his brother have just been the nicest people," said Gianopoulos. Choice would even censor himself when it seemed he wanted to utter a swear word, said his friend.
Des Plaines police are still seeking the driver of the truck, who drove away from the scene and might not have known he struck a pedestrian. They have released a composite sketch and are asking for anyone with information to call (847) 391-5400. Anonymous tips can be texted to CRIMES. First enter the keyword ICARE.