Batavia teen remembered for joyful life, leadership
17-year-old's organs could help up to 170 recipients
William "Will" Freiburger learned three years ago just how fragile and precious life is when he suffered a brain hemorrhage.
Although he recovered, doctors said a blood vessel abnormality was too small to be repaired surgically. He would have to wait for it to grow, despite the increasing risk of death from another bleed.
While he waited, Will made the most of his time. He got involved in activities at Batavia High School, such as the Key Club and student council. He went to South America on a charitable service trip. He took up tennis.
And he continued to espouse his fashion philosophy, with his fondness for wearing a leopard-print bathrobe, colorful socks and Birkenstock sandals.
The 17-year-old Batavia High School senior lost his fight against the brain condition this week. He suffered another bleed two weeks ago and was declared brain dead Feb. 16, according to his older brother, Luke.
Will was kept on life support through Tuesday so medications could clear out of his system and his organs and other body parts could be donated to help other people. Doctors told the family as many as 170 recipients could benefit, Luke said.
"He was an out-there guy," Luke Freiburger said. "He was super fun to be around. He had a lot of life in those three years."
The school district informed high school parents last Saturday of Will's brain death. At a Senior Night rally later that night, students wore "crazy socks" and sandals in honor of Will. "Comfort was always key to him," Luke said.
Will's friend, Justin Chu, told the school board Tuesday he had known Will since they were little. The two played on Batavia's tennis team. He also recalled Will displaying athletic talent at age 5, dribbling past defenders in a soccer game.
"That was how Will lived his life. He was the best at seemingly everything he did," said Chu, a student ambassador to the school board.
The board, which had a moment of silence for Freiburger at the beginning of its meeting, then recessed for several minutes so board and staff members and people in the audience who were crying could compose themselves.
Will played tennis for two years, including being on the varsity team last spring. He was a leader with the school's Key Club, including helping to plan and run the "Mr. BHS" charity fundraising contest in January. In addition to being on the student council, he was a member of the National Spanish Honor Society.
He was named an Illinois State Scholar, among the top 10 percent of high school seniors across the state who are chosen based on a combination of college entrance exam scores and class rank. According to Luke Freiburger, Will notched a score of 32 out of a possible 36 on the ACT test.
Will told his family he didn't want them "wasting money" on a funeral, Luke Freiburger said.
Instead, a celebration of life will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday at The Hub at Christ Community Church, at Randall and Bolcum roads in St. Charles. There will be a time of story sharing and music from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium next to the Hub.
People are also invited to post photos at friendsaresiblingsgodnevergaveus.shutterfly.com.
Will is survived by his parents, John and Jane, and his brothers Luke, Ian and Keegan.
Memorial gifts are being accepted via youcaring.com. The family will determine to which organizations to send them.
Teen: Celebration of Will's life to be held Sunday