Over 1,500 people attended the memorial service for Ben Breedlove, who chronicled his lifetime battle with a rare heart condition, recounting his near death experiences on YouTube.
Friends and family gathered at Austin’s Gateway Church in Texas to remember Breedlove, 18, who died from a heart attack on Christmas day. His sister, Ally Breedlove, spoke during the service, which was broadcast live over the internet.
She recalled Breedlove’s near brushes with death, where he had powerful visions that he would remember for the rest of his young life. During an episode of cardiac arrest when he was just four years old, Ben described seeing a bright light and being overcome with a feeling of piece, according to Ally.
“God let me feel that peace before I came back so that I would know that heaven is worth it,” Ally said of her brother.
Breedlove also recalled the event in his video, “This is my story,” which has been viewed over two million times since he posted it on Dec. 18. He said it was the first time he cheated death.
His mother, Deanne Breedlove, told ABC News that Ben felt the peace of God when he had those glimpses into heaven and heavenly presence.
“There was this big bright light above me … I couldn’t make out what it was because it was so bright,” Breedlove recalled. “I told my mom, ‘Look at the bright light,’ and pointed up. She said she didn’t see anything … there were no lights in this hall.”
Breedlove said he couldn’t take his eyes of the light and all he could do was smile.
“I had no worries at all, like nothing else in the world mattered,” Breedlove said.
Breedlove never forgot the feeling he had that day, saying he couldn’t even begin to describe how peaceful it was. In his most recent near-death experience early in December, he said he felt that same peaceful feeling he had when he was four.
His friend, Eden Young, said that Ben wanted to spread the word that even though he had hardships, he could get through it, according to KVUE news.
Breedlove’s mother said she was excited that Ben showed people, through his video, that they should think about things that really matter in life. Photos of Breedlove during happy times were projected on a large screen during the service.
Ben Breedlove suffered from a heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where one part of the heart is thicker than the other parts. This makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. His YouTube videos have raised awareness for this disease and many have posted tribute videos for Breedlove on YouTube.
A fundraiser has been established on behalf of the Breedlove family to help continue Ben’s message of hope and to support others with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A Facebook tribute page has also been started in his honor.