Community mourns loss of Berkley High student, best friend and son

By: Victoria Mitchell | C&G Newspapers | Published March 20, 2017

 Dominic Geskey’s mother, Mary Blazevich; father, Steve Geskey; and sisters Ella, 12, and Claire, 10, listen to stories about him during the vigil.

Dominic Geskey’s mother, Mary Blazevich; father, Steve Geskey; and sisters Ella, 12, and Claire, 10, listen to stories about him during the vigil.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

HUNTINGTON WOODS — Dominic Geskey embodied love.

He loved Matchbox cars, his family, the community, hugs, Huntington Woods police officers, his friends, calling out “Flex” when the Ford vehicle drove by, and living each day with unfiltered joy.

People love him deeply too. The love that his family, friends, organizations, clubs, teachers and residents have for the Huntington Woods teen is pure and inspiring.

It’s the kind of love that filled one block of Lincoln Avenue with people on a cold March 17 night so that they could hold candles in the freezing rain while singing “Amazing Grace” and comfort one another with tears, hugs, laughs and stories.

“He was just one of my best friends, and he could always make my day or anybody else’s day,” said Berkley High School freshman Wendy Klunk. “When we were down or when we were up, it didn’t matter, and it’s been very hard for us, but we’ve come together to offer each other support.”

Geskey, 15, died March 13 from sudden cardiac arrest. He was born July 24, 2001, in Lansing and attended Berkley High School. He is survived by his parents, Stephen Geskey and Mary Blazevich, and his sisters, Claire and Ella.

Geskey’s visitation and funeral were held March 18 and 19 at First United Methodist Church in downtown Royal Oak.

“His heart was too big for his body,” said his mother, Mary Blazevich. “That is what I think. His heart was just so big.”

Blazevich said Dominic was her rock star.

“And he always made me feel like a rock star, because people would ask me if I was Dominic’s mom,” she said. “I just felt like the rock star and so did my husband and my girls too — we felt like the lucky ones.”

Blazevich said he was always pushing her out of her own comfort zone.

The week before his death, she spoke in front of about 300 people at an Autism Alliance function. Blazevich said it was something that she would never have done before, but he inspired her by the way he lived his life with a sense of openness and appreciation and never feeling his life was about being a child with autism.

Blazevich started the nonprofit organization MI Community with the motto of “inclusion for all, reclusion for none” because of Dominic’s grace.

The organization focuses on peer-to-peer interactions inside and outside of the schools, because she said a lot of kids with different needs don’t always get phone calls or are able to socially interact.

“I think I got more out of it than anyone, just seeing them all,” Blazevich said. “And the nicest things about the events over the past four years is you couldn’t tell who was special needs and who wasn’t. And the kids with special needs helped the students who didn’t have them. It wasn’t a one-way street.”

Blazevich said her son loved the organization’s events, and there were many more coming that she knew he would have loved. Blazevich said he would have loved everything that has happened since his death.

“All of these people are doing these things, and I know they are coming from Dominic, because he would have enjoyed every single one of them. He would have enjoyed every single thing that is happening now,” she said.

Dominic loved to bowl with the Miracle League of Michigan and was registered to play his first season of Miracle League baseball this summer.

He would often be seen sitting on the bench outside the Huntington Woods Public Safety Department so that he could watch the cars go by. The Public Safety Department is ordering a plaque that will be forever fastened to the bench, dedicating the seat to Geskey.

When he wasn’t admiring cars, he would often be seen at Huntington Woods Recreation events and was a member of the department’s Teen Council —  a group comprising sixth- through 12th-graders who plan activities, trips, programs, community service projects and fundraisers for the group.

“That is how I got to know Dominic,” said Tracy Shanley, Huntington Woods Parks and Recreation program coordinator.

Shanley said Dominic went on teen trips with them and participated in different activities, such as helping at preschool camp and senior citizen events.

“He was definitely an important part of our program here,” she said.

Shanley said he really shined at the meetings.

“He just touched so many people’s lives with his friendship and his love, and he was truly amazing,” she said.

Shanley said the outpouring of love and support for the family is a testament to Dominic.

“It just shows you how much his life affected all of our lives in such a good way, and people just want to do whatever they can to help the family and help remember Dominic and how beautiful he was,” she said.

Berkley freshman Adler Fritz is involved with a Links peer-to-peer program at the high school, and would help Geskey throughout the day. 

“We would have lunch together every Monday, and I saw Dom as more than someone I helped, but as my actual friend,” he said. “Somebody who made me laugh because he was always in a good mood and always smiling.

“He’s the type of person you are never frowning around, and there are moments when he is just dying laughing, and then you just start dying laughing because he is the nicest, funniest kid you will ever meet.”

At the high school, Dominic would have different helpers each hour, but they didn’t like the term “helper.” Instead, they liked “peers.”

“He showed us what being a good friend meant, because Dom was always good to us, and he taught us what a true friend really is,” said Berkley High School freshman Charlie Serwa. “He was never mean. He was always honest and was always a good friend.”

Serwa said Dominic also taught him to remember what is important and to make the most of everything.

The district is continually adding to a long list of remembrances for Dominic, including dedicating its high school performance of “Bye Bye Birdie” to him; creating a scholarship; and wearing blue, not only for autism awareness, but because it was Dominic’s favorite color. Turquoise ribbons currently are seen throughout the Huntington Woods community in his honor. A rededication of the Hoops for Autism Event in Dominic’s name has also been planned, and the Jack and Patti Salter Community Center in Royal Oak put a remembrance of the teen on its sign.

“He has touched so many people in so many ways, and we are seeing it, and the community is just hugging us with lots of different hugs in so many different ways, and it’s bringing out the extraordinary in the community that he was a part of, and he was extraordinary,” Blazevich said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in his honor, and donations to MI Community are being accepted in his name. The GoFundMe page was set up with a goal of reaching $5,000, and following the funeral on Sunday, the page had reached nearly $20,000.

Although many of these tributes during the days following Dominic’s death seem to mark endings, there is nothing about his spirit that is final.

“He taught people ... not to lead with his disability,” Blazevich said. “If you knew Dominic, you knew him for kindness, compassion, his caring, his understanding, his willingness to do anything at any time.”

Shanley said he will be greatly missed.

“You look in those beautiful eyes of Dominic, and you get that smile, and he melted your heart. There is no other way to explain it. He just had that way about him,” she said.