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updated: 1/11/2014 10:41 AM

Carol Stream seventh-grader lived life despite health problems

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  • Tilak Patel

      Tilak Patel

 
 

A serious heart condition never put a damper on Tilak Patel's winning smile, kind nature or passion for sports, several friends and family members said Friday at the 13-year old boy's funeral.

Despite his own health problems, the Carol Stream teen played basketball, baseball and football and supported on the sidelines when he couldn't get in the game.

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Tilak, a seventh-grader at Eastview Middle School in Bartlett, collapsed at a bus stop in front of Spring Trail Elementary School in Carol Stream Wednesday morning and paramedics took him to an area hospital, according to an email sent to parents by Spring Trail Principal Amy Kendryna.

The family and school district declined to specify Tilak's heart condition.

More than 300 people showed up to mourn the teenager during a traditional Hindu funeral service held in English and Gujarati at Countryside Funeral Home & Crematory in Bartlett.

Among the mourners were Tilak's family and friends, classmates, teachers and staff from Elgin Area School District U-46, as well as friends and leaders from the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Complex in Bartlett, where the teen attended Sunday school.

Drums, singing, and the sounds of crying were ever present. At the end of the service, mourners -- first the men, then the women -- put flower petals at Tilak's feet, as is tradition before cremation.

Tilak was the kind of boy who made sandwiches for his younger brother every morning and set up the computer for his grandfather to read the newspaper, mourners said. Friends remembered having sleepovers with Tilak but never sleeping, because he was a night owl. Besides being a help at Sunday school, Tilak was also a singer.

Mourners shed tears while a television screen showed Tilak singing. That video was shot two years ago, just before the Patel family discovered Tilak had a heart condition, said Usha Patel, a family friend. But his joy in life continued.

"Even though he was 13 years old, it seemed he had 70 or 80 years of experience under his belt," said his cousin, Kunal Patel.

• Daily Herald staff reporter Christopher Placek contributed to this story.

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