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‘His spirit is going to live on’

© Leesburg Today - 11/02/2015

Colby Smith's family wants to ensure the 11-year-old boy's legacy of faith and generosity helps others.

This isn't a story about a tragic dirt-bike accident; it's about an incredible kid. A little boy who touched so many lives, more than 500 people came to his wake. More than 1,000 attended his funeral.

Colby Smith's mom said she often told him ""I want to be you when I grow up.""

Now she plans to spend her life doing just that.

""We are going to channel Colby and that will make us better people,"" Keri Farley said recently, a gathering of Colby's aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins surrounding her. ""I think Colby was here to serve others. He was generous and that's what I'm going to be.""

Eleven-year-old Colby Smith died Oct. 11 after losing control of his dirt bike and crashing while riding near Lake Jackson Drive in Manassas.

Mourners packed Colby's funeral Mass, including classmates from Aquinas Catholic school, where he attended until this year, and his new school, The Nokesville School. Players with his absolute favorite football team, the Brentsville High School Tigers, were there wearing their jerseys. Boy Scouts and even the EMTs who attended to him after the accident came to pay their respects.

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His family emphasizes the fatal crash into a tree was an accident. Colby was a skilled rider and was wearing a helmet.

""It was a freak accident,"" his mother said. ""He died on impact. We take solace from that.""

Colby had been riding dirt bikes for six years and was with his father Zach Smith and his friend and virtual big brother Dalton Vickers, a Brentsville football player, at the time of the accident.

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""We would ride dirt bikes three or four times a week,"" Smith said. ""He not only loved riding them, we worked on them, probably every day of the week, either bicycles or dirt bikes.""

""Give him a socket and a wrench and he was happy,"" Farley said with a slight smile. ""He would fix other kids' bikes. He had such a giving spirit about him. He was so generous.""

""He would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it or the bike under his feet,"" said his aunt Katie Benjamin.

When Colby saw some of his neighbors who were less fortunate didn't have bikes, he convinced his parents to go to yard sales and buy a couple.

""He was just happy to watch them ride,"" his mother said.

Bikes were Colby's passion and not just dirt bikes. He learned to ride a bicycle when he was 3 years old. When his training wheels fell off while he was riding, he just kept going.

""It was an instant talent for him. He began building ramps out of plywood and doing stunts,"" Farley said.

When he was in preschool, she got a note from his teacher about his riding the school's tricycles at recess. He was doing tricks on them and other children were getting injured trying to copy his moves. He needed to stop, so he did.

But not for long.

He soon moved on to racing with NOVA BMX and won many trophies.

When he realized his neighborhood friends didn't have trophies, he organized a little competition so that every one of them could win and be awarded with one of his trophies.

""He got enjoyment watching other people having fun,"" Farley said.

In his memory, the family is establishing a nonprofit called Colby's Ride. Their goal is to raise enough money to buy at least 25 bikes to be given to needy children every Christmas.

Twenty-five was Colby's favorite number, his racing number and his birthdate.

The Catholic charity House of Mercy will work with the family to identify the children.

""Colby had a special place in his heart for the House of Mercy,"" Farley said. Last Christmas Colby used his own money to buy Lego sets for some of the children served by the charity.

""Colby's Ride is right up his alley,"" she said. ""It's a great way to honor him, his legacy.""

While Colby was a little boy who loved bikes, those who knew him describe him as so much more.

He was polite, loving, easy-going, funny, generous, respectful, a healer, patient and religious -- an old soul.

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""He was so reverent in church. Colby had so many facets about him. He was spiritual, he was fun, he was kind,"" said his aunt Kelley Witter. ""He wanted to make you better and he was forgiving. Oh, that little boy was forgiving.""

He was comfortable around everyone, from his young cousins to his grandmother's neighbor who he would visit and discuss with her Victorian furniture.

""When he walked in a room, he warmed it up and when he left it, he left it calm and peaceful,"" said his grandmother Patty Parker.

Since the accident, his mother has been carrying around Colby's favorite orange Brentsville Tigers sweatshirt. Colby and his parents went to every game. In turn, the team is planning a tribute to Colby.

""He absolutely loved that team,"" Farley said. And he wanted to show his support for ""big brother"" Dalton.

The extended family has spent most of their time together since the accident. It is obvious they are very close.

""We don't want to not talk about him,"" Witter said. ""We don't want him to be forgotten.""

""He was a wonderful kid. The whole family is going to miss him dearly but his spirit is going to live on,"" Smith said. ""Everyone in the family is going to try to live the way Colby would want us to live -- a Christ-like way, a giving way and a patient way.""

""We will miss the warmth and affection so freely given by this loving, charismatic young man who has left his precious footprints forever imprinted in our hearts,"" Parker wrote in her eulogy for her grandson.

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Colby's Ride

Colby Smith's family has started a nonprofit with the goal of providing at least 25 bikes to needy children each Christmas.

For more information and to donate, visit www.colbysride.com. The PayPal account is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The Tilt website is www.tilt.com/tilts/colbys-ride.

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