By Angel Greer, Contributing Writer
Tyler Daigle, a senior history major at UMF passed away February 27th from complications related to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder that causes the muscles to weaken due to an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. This disorder primarily affects males and progresses over time.
“Tyler was diagnosed at the age of five. He was able to walk up until he was ten. It affected every muscle in his body, including his heart,” said Tyler’s fiancée, Gabrielle Severance. Muscle weakness can begin as early as age 3, first affecting the shoulders and upper arm muscles and the muscles of the hips and thighs. By the early teens, the heart and respiratory muscles are also affected. “In the end, he was losing the use of his arms, but this didn’t stop him. He continued to go to school and complete assignments until the end,” said Severance.
“Tyler was 23 and he was a senior on his way to graduate,” said Sam O’Neal, Tyler’s CA this past year. “He was almost there. He was a smart cookie, a very smart cookie.” Tyler always knew what he wanted and did not hesitate to pursue it.
“Tyler’s favorite subject was history. He was working towards a degree in history with a minor in anthropology and political science,” said Severance.
“I loved having him in class primarily because he was so expressive,” said Nicole Kellett, Tyler’s Latin America and Anthropology professor. “I could always tell if I struck a chord with the students because Tyler would often throw his head back in laughter or shake his head back and forth in disbelief, or perhaps amazement, of what we were discussing in class,” said Kellett.
During February break, O’Neal had received a message from Susan Grace, Tyler’s mom, about him being admitted to the Hospice House in Auburn. “She didn’t really tell us much; besides that, everything was hopeful,” said O’Neal. “Everyone in Tyler’s hall and every CA in Scott itself signed a card and sent it to him while he was admitted.”
Not only was Tyler smart, but he was also kind, funny, and a great listener. “I know you kinda say this about everybody, but he was so impossibly kind to anybody…anybody and everybody that he met. Whenever he would talk you would just listen to him,” said O’Neal. “Everything he said just kinda made sense. He was very good at conversation. He loved listening to your stupid stories and he would laugh right along with you,” said O’Neal.
Tyler was strong-willed, self-sufficient, and an independent person, even while being wheelchair bound. “It didn’t matter that he was in a wheelchair because it didn’t seem like he was. He was way more independent than I’ll ever be,” said O’Neal.
“He swore that if he could walk, he’d be a wrestler,” said Severance. Tyler was a huge fan of the WWE. “He knew everyone that was in it and every move, and made up his own. He also wanted to start up a Wrestling Club,” said O’Neal. Tyler has always been actively involved here on campus and was part of a few clubs, in addition to always attending events held at the Landing.
“Tyler made UMF a better place,” said Kellett, “and I’m so grateful he chose to spend many of his formative years with us.”