A memorial service will be held Sunday afternoon for Travis Brewer, the Palo Alto High School sophomore who died in his sleep Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Brewer, who friends and coaches say inspired others with his friendliness, honesty and upbeat outlook, will be remembered at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, at the Palo Alto High School gym, 50 Embarcadero Road.
His family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be given to the Special Olympics, Paly band or Sports Boosters Club.
Brewer, 16, was found in bed by his parents Monday morning. Brewer died of a congenital heart defect he'd had since birth, family members said.
Police found no suspicious circumstances, Agent Dan Ryan said.
Students, coaches and family members said Brewer was well-known at school for his exceptionally open and outgoing demeanor.
"He was an awesome kid. He was an inspiration to all the kids that were involved with the program," said Dave Jefferson, the school's varsity baseball coach last year, when Brewer was team manager.
Brewer gave his best to the team every day -- he was unafraid of what people thought and always "spoke the truth," Jefferson said.
Brewer's father, Tony, is an assistant wrestling coach at Paly.
"He was a figure on campus because of his friendliness," according to senior Mike Hamada. He described Brewer's habit of approaching students, saying "Hey" and offering a high-five hand-slap.
Brewer was extremely involved in school, helping with both football and baseball teams, playing drums and working at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Hospital as part of his special-education classes, his aunt Kim Murray said.
"Travis appears to have known everyone in Palo Alto," Melinda Teves, another aunt, added, citing an outpouring of visitors who came to the family Palo Alto home to pay respects Monday.
Speaking into the phone above voices of mourners at the house, Travis' uncle, Mike Brewer, emphasized his nephew's upbeat attitude: "He's just a kid that wanted to fit in and always had a laugh, a smile on his face, no matter what," he said.
"This is tough for me," Brewer added, his voice catching. He predicted the family would be deeply affected.
Because the teenager had regular check-ups for his heart problem, family members were surprised by the unexpected death, he said.
"For someone we almost lost almost at birth, he actually cheated life and did his 16 years here," the uncle said.
Fellow students were shocked to learn of Brewer's death, news of which spread quickly before teachers made an official announcement to classes mid-morning, Hamada said.
In an e-mail to the school community, Principal Jacquie McEvoy asked readers to "keep Travis' family in your thoughts and prayers."
To comfort students, the school's guidance office was staffed with school counselors, the school psychologist, and counselors from Adolescent Counseling Services all day, she wrote.