By RACHEL C. DOVE
MERRIMAC - A young life ended far too soon and the Tug Valley area lost a special resident on Friday, who had captured many hearts and been an inspiration to all who knew him.
Zachary “Zach” Dylan Baisden was a 10-year-old boy who had fought a courageous battle with the debilitating disease, Muscular Dystrophy, since birth. Confined to a wheelchair, Zach never let the hand life had dealt him dampen his spirit, smile or zest for life.
Friday, May 11, Zach was pronounced dead at the Williamson Memorial Hospital from health complications following a short illness.
Ironically, just two short weeks ago, the young man was photographed with medals around his neck, smiling from ear to ear, as he claimed first place in races during the 2012 Special Olympics held at the Mingo Central High School.
Riverside Elementary Principal Paula Brown, where Zach attended school, spoke of her memories of the young man at the Olympics, remarking about what a truly special young man he was, and of his caring and gentle heart.
“Zach had already won two medals and was preparing for his third race when he turned toward me and commented that his opponent didn’t have a motor on her wheelchair like he did,” said Brown. “As much as I know Zach wanted to win another medal, he made the decision to not give the race his all. Instead, he held back and let the little girl beat him, knowing how happy she would be to win the race and take home a medal.
“That’s who Zach was; he often reminded us of how we’re to treat others. He set a fine example for others to follow.”
Zach was the son of Scott and Brandi Hensley Baisden, and had one sister, Kaeleigh. He leaves behind numerous family members and many friends at Riverside who will greatly miss him. Another group of men that will always feel a void left by the sudden departure of Zach are the present and past members of the Williamson Fire Department.
In 2006, Zach was the subject of an article that appeared in the Daily News.
While interviewing the amazing young man, he revealed his love for fire trucks and spoke of how much he wanted to take a ride in one. Fire Chief Jerry Mounts was contacted, and within a few short moments, the big yellow fire truck was sitting outside the Daily News with Mounts and several firefighters on board.
They loaded Zach on the truck and made his dream a reality.
Since that day, Zach had been a close friend of the firemen, and could be seen seated in his wheel chair beside the firefighters every Labor Day weekend as they conducted donation drives for the Muscular Dystrophy Association Firemen’s “Boot Day.”
“When Zach and his family first began partnering with us for the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, he was a little shy and was quiet natured,” commented Chief Mounts. “But as each year passed, Zach began to open up more to us, and we had the opportunity to really get to know him.
“One of my fondest memories of Zach was watching him high-five all the firefighters after we finished our “Boot Day” and counted our donations.
“If the Baisden family doesn’t know it by now, then I want them to hear this from me. Zach, his parents and little sister are a true inspiration to people in this entire region. Zach touched our lives; he touched our hearts. His memory will continue to inspire all of us to be better people for many years to come.”
Funeral services (see complete obituary inside on page 6A) for Zach are scheduled for Wednesday at noon, at the Delorme Pentacostal Tabernacle In Jesus Name Church. Burial will follow in the family cemetery at Merrimac.
Fire Chief Jerry Mounts was asked by the family to say a few words about Zach during his wake at the church this evening scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., and several firefighters will also serve as pallbearers.
Fellow students of Zach will be singing a song tonight in memory of their special friend.
Donations to be used toward Zach’s funeral costs may be dropped off to Chief Mounts at the Williamson Fire Department or to Principal Brown at Riverside Elementary. Checks may be made payable directly to the Chafin Funeral Home at Delbarton.