The gym at Central Valley High School was packed Saturday with hundreds of people, gathered to remember the life of recent graduate, 18-year-old Jansen Badinger who passed away on Tuesday. During Saturday's service, it was clear looking around the room that Jansen had a huge impact on everyone he met. The memorial was a celebration of life, with family and friends sharing memories and remembering the young man who's smile, even through pictures Saturday, lit up the room. "Today is about life," Pastor Joe said during the memorial. "Today we are going to remember and celebrate the life of Jansen." It seemed fitting that the service was held in the high school gym. It was a place Jansen spent so much time celebrating others, but today everyone was celebrating him. "Jansen was also an amazing athlete, some of you may not know this because he chose to cheer everyone on rather than play himself," said Jansen's older brother Jordan Badinger. Jordan echoed what so many feel: He was a young man, taken before his time.
"He's helped us all, changed us all for the better and done more in the short 18 years he was with us than most of us, especially I, could even dream of," Jordan said.
Over and over, friends and family said Jansen had a smile that was contagious and a heart for people like no one else.
"Everyone remembers his beautiful smile," said Jansen's girlfriend Alaina Bates. "It was so genuine and contagious and wow, he could really make you laugh."
"He would always be the first one to help anyone and I think that's what made the biggest impact for everyone," said fellow classmate and friend Courtnee Vanguilder.
Even Kevin White, the man who tried to save his life by pulling him from the river, was there Saturday to support his family through this tough time.
"He seems like exactly what everybody's been saying today," Kevin White said. "I just wish I would've been able to meet him in life, just seeing all the pictures and stuff he had a happy life and he must have been a really great guy."
A really great guy, who lived by a set of rules he shared with his girlfriend Alaina.
"Number one was never make promises you can't keep. Number two, family always comes first. Number three, always smile no matter what you're doing. Number four, put others before yourself and five, always believe because God has a path for you," Alaina said.
It's a code that made this 18-year-old someone no one, will ever forget.