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Remembering the life of Eddie Mayerik

Eight-year-old Eddie Mayerik lost his battle with congenital heart disease on Thursday, July 6

NFL: FEB 08 Super Bowl LVI - Super Bowl Experience Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Buffalo Bills fans worldwide are in mourning, following what’s been a truly heartbreaking week for the Mayerik family. Nick Mayerik announced on Thursday that his eight-year-old son, Eddie, was no longer suffering, having past away due to complications from congenital heart disease (CHD).

Nick, who started the Twitter hashtag #EddiesInfantry, originally took to social media to share videos of Eddie’s journey living with CHD — chronicling both the good and bad days. Even when faced with the scariest and most difficult situations, Eddie was armed with an infectious smile and a warrior’s attitude. Eddie’s determination and positivity resonated with his father, who often found the centering he needed within his son during his most difficult days filled with overwhelming emotions.

Eddie was in the fight of his life from day one, as noted by The Buffalo News’ most recent coverage of the Mayeriks’ story:

Eddie was born with two heart valve defects and essentially no pulmonary artery, which carries blood from the heart to the lungs to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body. He underwent nine heart surgeries, and he and his family spent the better part of his life in the hospital. He had been in the intensive care unit at an Illinois hospital since March.

Eddie endured more in eight years than most people will their entire lives. Through nine procedures, he came back ready for the next battle. But this week, Eddie’s health took a turn for the worse, and the GoFundMe page set up for Eddie and the family announced that Eddie was intubated due to his doctors’ fear of Eddie going into cardiac arrest. After reviewing x-rays, doctors diagnosed Eddie with a collapsed left lung, and placed him on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine to do “all the work for the heart and lungs so Eddie’s body doesn’t have to.”

The Mayerik family went on to share through GoFundMe updates that:

This morning they called us and said that the lung collapse was getting larger and they wanted to put a chest tube in to re-inflate. Obviously this also comes with risks but it had to be done so his lungs can heal. He is not out of the woods and we ask that you just pray…. For healing, for no pain, for comfort, for strength - not only for Eddie but our entire extended family (grandparents and his aunts and their families) for the guidance of the doctors, surgeons and nurses.

Earlier in the week, Bills Mafia and countless others engaged in virtual prayer vigils in hopes that Eddie would pull through. Donations and raffles to benefit Eddie and his family continued to roll in, and do so now following Eddie’s passing on Thursday.

Eddie reached the hearts of so many, including former and current Buffalo Bills players, who paid their respects to Eddie, Nick and the Mayerik family.

Eddie’s story touch so many people’s lives thanks to Twitter and the efforts of Bills fans Marc Johnson and Anthony Trifilo (founder of “Pancho’s Army” philanthropic group). Johnson and Trifilo decided they simply wanted to help Nick and his son. They created “Little Eddie’s Infantry” as a branch of “Pancho’s Army,” naming Eddie as commander of the Infantry. Through their initiative, sales of t-shirts and fundraisers helped the family cover necessary medical expenses.

Now, with the help of Eddie’s incredible dad, Nick Mayerik, Eddie’s Infantry will soldier on with their commander watching from afar. Their collective sights remain focused on spreading love, lots of “Go Bills!,” and most importantly bringing greater awareness to congenital heart disease.

If Eddie’s story has touched your heart or inspired you in some way, you can order a limited-edition “Eddie’s Infantry Forever” shirt, with all proceeds helping the Mayerik family navigate the remainder of Eddie’s medical expenses.

You can also donate to the GoFundMe page set up for Eddie and the Mayerik family.