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Darrington loses inspirational teen
Despite illness Seth Cook lived his life to the fullest
DARRINGTON Seth Cook was only 13 years old when he died June 25, but he had the health problems of an elderly man and a serene outlook that went well beyond his years.
Seth was born with progeria, a rare disease that ages its victims so quickly that many of them dont even live long enough to see their teen years, but over the course of the past three years Seth was able to share the story of his shortened life with more people than he could count.
After the Seattle Post-Intelligencer offered an in-depth report on Seth in the fall of 2004, Dateline NBC became aware of the Darrington boy and his family, which led to them spending the next several months with the Cooks.
The result was a nearly hour-long documentary on Seths life and his loved ones which had its premiere screenings in the Darrington High School Auditorium early last year, for both the student body and the rest of the towns residents.
A significant percentage of the towns population of approximately 1,200 turned out to applaud their hometown boy at that event. On June 30, many of those same neighbors came together again, to commemorate Seths passing and remember his life.
Dayn Brunner, a friend of the Cooks, recalled Seths charisma and intelligence.
He was just magnetic, Brunner said. He had the ability to talk to people on so many levels and he was fascinated by the world around him. When he was six years old, I happened to be behind the family in the IGA and he wanted his mom to get a bottle of A-1 steak sauce that was on a high shelf because he wanted to read the ingredients. This community will never be the same without him, but it will be better because he was here.
Seths uncle, Reuben Cook, likewise emphasized his nephews quit wit.
One time, we were playing Monopoly on our family game night and he had Boardwalk and I had Park Place, Reuben Cook said. We were both so stubborn that we wouldnt sell to each other, so he said, Why dont we create an LLC, so that we each get free rent on each others properties and we each collect half when other people land on them? I was blown away by how smart he was and we knocked everyone else out of the game.
Seths aunt, Julie DeYoung, already missed her nephews attitude.
He loved to poke fun at me, for any reason, DeYoung said. I think he got that from his grandpa. He came to visit me at work once and the seat he was in was really low. I didnt want to embarrass him, so I tried to ask, Do you want a and his dad said, in a really funny voice, A booster? Seth couldnt talk as much anymore, but he just gave me the dirtiest look and I said, Never mind! I know what I can do with my booster.
As he approached his early teens, Seth stayed small, at approximately three feet tall and 25 pounds, but he received ever-increasing amounts of love and public displays of support throughout his life. He even earned himself a sized-down Snohomish County Sheriffs deputy uniform, since he was made an honorary deputy in 2005.
Seth also met with such celebrities as actress Sandra Bullock, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and country singer Alan Jackson. Seth had said that he inherited his appreciation of Jackson from his father, Kyle Cook, and that he especially enjoyed Jacksons song Little Bitty, because Im a little bitty.
In spite of his hardening arteries and increasingly arthritic joints, Seth maintained this wisecracking, upbeat attitude throughout his struggles. His declining health eventually forced him into home-schooling, because his frail body could no longer risk the rigors of walking from class to class in a public high school, even in a town where so many people knew and loved him. He continued to read to kindergarten children at least once a week, until a stroke rendered him unable to do so within the past year.
Seth derived much of his joy from playing on his X-Box, running outside with his dog, the aptly named Bullet, and attending his annual reunions with other children diagnosed with progeria, through the Sunshine Foundation which hosted trips for the children to Mount Rushmore, the White House, Sea World and Disney World.
Although Seths mother, Patti Cook, admitted that the reunions were difficult for her at first, especially when you see some of the older kids and realize thats where youre headed, she came to share her sons enthusiasm for the annual event. As for Kyle Cook, the avid outdoorsman found ways to share his fondness for camping, fishing and hunting with his son, who often caught fish that his father admitted were almost bigger than him.
Both Kyle and Patti Cook made sacrifices to enrich the quality of their lives with Seth. Patti quit her job in a mechanics shop, while Kyle dutifully went home from his construction work on every lunch break and every weekend to share time with his wife and child. The Cooks credited their strong Christian faith with keeping their family together in a situation that could cause a number of families to fall apart.
As Seths life expectancy grew ever shorter, he adopted an optimistic outlook, expecting that he would go fishin with the Lord, and hunt Gummi bears and chocolate rabbits in Heaven, where Seth felt confident that there would be no limit to how many Swedish fish he could catch.
As my husband would say, everyone has their whole lifetime to make their mark on this world, Patti Cook said. For Seth, all of these stories about him in the media have definitely helped him to do that.
We definitely want to thank the community for being here for us, Kyle Cook said. Weve never felt alone, through this whole thing. Seth was full of life, and he loved life.