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Jeannette boy who served as best man in parents' wedding dies

| Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, 8:54 a.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Best Man Logan Stevenson, 2, rests on his grandmother, Debbie Stevenson, during his parents' wedding ceremony on August 3, 2013, in the backyard of their Jeannette home.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Christine Swidorsky holds her son, Logan Stevenson, 2, with her husband-to-be and Logan's father, Sean Stevenson,in their Jeannette home on July 30, 2013 .
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Christine Swidorsky carries her son and the couple's best man, Logan Stevenson, 2, down the aisle to her husband-to-be, Sean Stevenson, during the wedding ceremony on August 3, 2013, in the backyard of their Jeannette home.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Sean Stevenson holds his son, Logan, 2, while posing for wedding photos with his bride, Christine, after the wedding ceremony on August 3, 2013, in the backyard of their Jeannette home.

Logan Stevenson's chubby cheeks touched hearts around the globe.

The 2-year-old's death from leukemia on Monday and the poignant story of his parents' love have drawn a spontaneous outpouring of emotion from people across the country and beyond.

“It just touches a special part in your soul,” said Carol Kintigh, a family member. “Especially a baby, especially a child in need. You feel that you need to say something.”

A national audience watched as the Jeannette boy, in his final days, served as the best man in his parents' hastily planned backyard wedding on Saturday.

Logan died peacefully at 8:18 p.m. Monday, surrounded by his parents, Sean and Christine Stevenson, family members and loved ones.

The outpouring of emotion for Logan is a way for strangers to offer support to his family, counselors said.

“That just awakens such intense feelings for people,” said Therese Vorsheck, director of the Highmark Caring Place, a Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families. “It touches a very intense emotion and it's something that many ... people can relate to.”

Grief counseling expert Robert Zucker of Massachusetts said the response is “the best of human nature.”

“I think that innately, we want to help one another,” Zucker said. ”When we see something that we can connect with some way ... I think it relieves people of all the different times they couldn't do anything.”

Jaime Wieland of Jeannette doesn't know the Stevensons but hopes to show support by enlisting the community to display orange ribbons.

“I want the Stevensons to know as they're driving around town — in which I imagine is the worst week of their lives — that they're surrounded by a community of strangers who are praying and thinking of them,” said Wieland, a mother of four.

After Logan's story appeared July 31 in the Tribune-Review, dozens of emails and phone calls poured in, offering kind words, wedding-related services and even organ donations.

Family member Sylvia Young Johnson has fielded many of them, from Alabama to Arizona, Oregon to Brazil.

“A lot of them are just to say condolences,” Young Johnson said. “We answered as many as we could.”

Logan suffered from Fanconi anemia, a rare disease that often leads to cancer. During his short life, he endured leukemia, a stem cell transplant and the loss of a kidney.

Christine and Sean Stevenson brought Logan home on July 26 after doctors at Children's Hospital told them he had two to three weeks to live. They scuttled plans for a July 2014 wedding and planned a ceremony and reception for Saturday so Logan could be part of it.

Christine Stevenson carried Logan down the aisle to his father, where they paused for an emotional moment. Then Logan watched the ceremony as his grandmother, Debbie Stevenson, held him. He wore a tiny, tan pin-striped suit and an orange shirt, the color that denotes leukemia awareness.

He was awake for much of the day that served dually as a celebration of his life, sharing dances in the arms of his mother and grandmother.

On Tuesday, his family remembered Logan as a sweet boy who loved to dance. Christine Stevenson has said that Logan loved spaghetti and always danced to introduction music on “The Ellen DeGen-eres Show.”

His favorite character was Woody, a cowboy doll from the movie series “Toy Story,” and he often clutched his favorite stuffed toy, a rabbit named “Bun Bun.”

The boy's uncle, Hal Young, recalled a time when his cellphone ring tone sounded during a hospital visit and Logan broke into a dance.

“He hung on there to give his family that special weekend,” Young said. “He touched more than just his family and friends. It makes you think and makes you change your views on life.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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