Scott: Eighteen-year-old Ben Breedlove was becoming a YouTube star and was a natural at connecting with an audience. He started by posting videos of pranks and sports, then turned to giving dating advice. And almost always, his parents say, he was smiling.
Breedlove: Ben was always, always joyful.
Scott: But unknown to his parents, Ben made a video that was more serious about the medical condition he had lived with since birth, a thickening of the heart muscle called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that eventually leads to heart failure.
He used notecards to tell his life story, which included two near-death experiences. He found them peaceful and said he couldn’t stop smiling. Just a week later, on Christmas Day, he collapsed. And this time he didn’t make it. The next day, his parents found his last video.
Breedlove: It was very emotional because number one, Ben was there in front of us. You know, moving and being himself. And it was also a much deeper side of him than he usually cared to show.
Scott: For his parents, it was a final Christmas present from their son.
Breedlove: I think you can look at this video and see that he’s not sad.
Scott: Ben’s video gave hope to others, too. It has been viewed more than 4 million times by people like Joanna McCray.
Joanna McCray: After watching the video and then learning that he died, I, of course, cried.
Scott: Then, this 18-year-old from Ben’s hometown posted her own video with a song she wrote for his parents.
“He was not afraid.”
Scott: The Breedloves recently watched her video for the first time.
Breedlove: As a mom, it’s a gift to me that Ben could touch her.
Scott: Thousands more of the people Ben touched were able to watch his funeral on a webcast from an Austin, Texas church. And the video that spoke to so many was played at that service.