OPINION: Coen Ashton, you will be so missed
IT FEELS grossly inadequate to say Coen Ashton was an amazing young man.
People achieve amazing things all the time and I'm lucky because I get to do stories about it.
But Coen was different.
During his long health battle, the Maryborough boy always had his eyes on something more than himself.
He had every right in the world just to focus on his own struggle - his will to survive was amazing in and of itself.
That just wasn't Coen. He wanted to open people's eyes, change minds and spread information about the taboo subject of organ donation.
He was selfless, and so was his family, in the truest sense of the word.
He was born with cystic fibrosis but didn't stop that from travelling the length of the Murray River on a jet ski to raise awareness for the cause.
Even when he underwent a double lung transplant, his focus was elsewhere - on his donor, the one who had given him a second chance at life.
His motto became my donor, my hero.
I did my first article with Coen when he was 11 years old.
At the time I was amazed by the courage of his family and how open they were about his diagnosis.
They did not shy away from the harsh realities of his prognosis, but it was clear they wanted to beat the odds.
For a few years after his lung transplant, I was so hopeful for Coen.
He went on a national tour, telling school children his story, removing the stigma from organ donation.
He was named the Fraser Coast's Young Citizen of the Year - I don't think there has ever been someone more deserving of that title.
When he started becoming ill after his kidneys began to fail, he had to go on dialysis.
Coen and his family had to move to Melbourne so he could get the treatment he needed.
But when I spoke to them on the phone, they were still incredibly optimistic.
Speaking to Dawn and Coen they were still every bit as kind and open as the first day I spoke to them, despite the fresh challenges they were facing.
I'd hoped I'd never have to write these words.
I don't know why good people are taken so suddenly and so soon.
I wish there was some way to bring Coen back, but pain free and living the type of active life he so wanted and deserved.
Since that's impossible, the only thing I can do is share his message, as I'm sure he would have wanted me to.
Many years ago after doing a story with Coen, I signed on to the organ donation registry.
I've also told my family what I would like to happen if I was to die suddenly.
If you would like to do the same, sign up here.