The youth of First Freewill Baptist Church of Clover planted a dogwood tree and held a balloon release Jan. 17 in memory of 26-year-old D.J. Mitchelson, who died Jan. 1.
Mitchelson, a Clover native and a 2008 graduate of Clover High School, was diagnosed in August 2012 at age 23 with a rare form of cancer, called T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma.
Mitchelson, the son of Donald and Linda Mitchelson of McConnells, had been working for Sparks Grading and Excavating in Gastonia, N.C., playing softball at Clover Community Park, hunting, fishing and playing guitar and singing in church. Linda Mitchelson said his diagnosis shocked the small community and his family.
Family members say he spent the next 2 ½ years battling the cancer and being an encouragement to others with his attitude of hope. He also shared with others his testimony of what the Lord had done for him.
After three relapses following aggressive treatments at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, he went to Duke University in December 2013 to receive a bone marrow transplant from a donor from Germany.
He stayed at Duke more than three months and was in remission about five months before the cancer came back. The church on Valley Avenue in Clover had an overflowing crowd for his celebration of life service.