Teen Fighting Rare Rapid-Aging Disease Passes Away, Leaves Behind Positive Legacy

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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- A teenager from Schuylkill County passed away on Christmas Eve after battling a rare rapid aging disease.

Josiah Viera had Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, also known as rapid-aging disease.

He passed away at just 14-years-old, but he captured the hearts of so many people from our area and far beyond.

Josiah was known to people all over the country for his bravery and love of baseball.

As the honorary bench coach of the State College Spikes, a Class A short-season affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals, he always cheered the loudest.

The team tweeted out a tribute saying, “he was our friend, our coach, our teammate, and our inspiration.”

“He always has a different outlook on life, sometimes more than what we do,” Josiah’s grandfather Dave Bohner said.

His grandfather and former St. Louis Cardinals player Jake Gronsky wrote a book about Josiah’s life called, “A Short Season”.

The book is sold at Threading Love in Lewisburg where employees who knew him are mourning the loss of young Josiah.

“Christmas morning I woke up and I realized he got the best Christmas gift of ever. He's home with Jesus where he belongs,” Manager Jody Gates said.

Josiah's book sold out shortly before he passed away, but people who work at Threading Love said it's always in demand.

“We'll get an order in and it'll be off the shelf very, very quickly. It's just great to see how much support he has not even in a town where he lived,” Sales associate Abigail Carney said.

His slogan, “Never Give Up,” even motivated the Nittany Lions.

Upon learning of his death, Penn State head football coach James Franklin tweeted, “going to miss my friend… Thankful for the time I was able to spend with him.

Gates said she’ll remember her friend Josiah for his positivity.

“You would meet him and you'd know his story of how much pain and struggle he's gone through but all you would see is this smile,” Gates said.

Funeral services for Josiah will be held at noon on Saturday at St. Andrews United Methodist Church near his hometown of Hegins.

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