SHARPSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — The Sharpsburg community came together on Saturday to celebrate the life of 9-year-old Ryett VanCleave, who was diagnosed with leukemia last year. The event was originally supposed to be a time for the community members, family, and friends to support him in his battle, but VanCleave lost his life just one day before.

“He had the brightest smile, big dark brown eyes, his charm just he just lit up a room. He was just fabulous. Just a great little human,” said his grandmother Kami Hoffman.

That’s how VanCleave’s family always remembers him. Vancleave was diagnosed with leukemia on April 21, 2021.

“We’ve been going through this journey with him for the past year. He went through nine treatments in 10 months and never went into remission,” she said.

VanCleave decided to write a bucket list of all the things he wanted to do, and that included visiting his family in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

Unfortunately, just one day before the Sharpsburg community planned on having a parade, and getting together to celebrate his fight with leukemia with him, VanCleave’s battle came to an end.

“366 days of fighting and it was peaceful. It was peaceful,” said Hoffman.

That did not stop them from honoring his life on Saturday.

“We kind of knew that it was coming, and we just decided as a family we still wanted it to go along with his memory,” she said.

The mayor of Sharpsburg even awarded Ryett’s family with a key to the city, and a certificate making him mayor for a day. Although VanCleave didn’t make it to his celebration, his grandmother says she knows he would truly enjoy it.

“He knows how special he was. He knows like everywhere he went. He felt so much love from everybody that he encountered,” she said.