FARGO — Nearly 1,000 people gathered Monday, Sept. 23, at Scheels Arena in Fargo to celebrate and mourn the life of Landon Solberg, an incredible and courageous 12-year-old West Fargo boy who died Sept. 17 after a long battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Hundreds of vehicles belonging to members of the community who continue to rally behind the Solbergs were piled into the arena's parking lot Monday night, filling every space out front, and many having spilled over to its sides.
Photos of Landon and the 12-year-old's memorabilia coated countless boards which formed a pathway into the service. Inside the arena was a sea of gray, green and gold, the colors of Landon, that were worn in honor of him and his favorite teams: The Bison, Carson Wentz's Philadelphia Eagles and gray, to represent "Landon's Light."
A video tribute with images of Landon throughout his life flashed across the four-sided scoreboard in the arena. A "Landon's Light" logo spanned across the small, digital screen that lines the walls above the rink's seats. And a multitude of small yellow lights shined down on the service.
A six-member Christian band, five wearing "Landon's Light" T-shirts and one a Carson Wentz jersey, hymned gospel songs that echoed throughout the arena. Landon is remembered for his unwavering faith by those close to him.
Landon was a son, cousin, brother, grandson, friend and student. And there wasn't one person in the room who wasn't shattered that his fight didn't have a different outcome. In his 12 years of life, he had already impacted so many people in such a significant way that he nearly filled an entire arena.
One of Landon's best friends, Brody, recorded a video to commemorate his close pal's life. Brody was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at 2 years old.
"Cancer is not something you want to have in common with one of your best friends, however, it meant we got to do some pretty neat things," Landon's best bud said in the video.
Throughout Landon's entire two-year journey with brain cancer, his faith never wavered, which became an inspiration for those around him — how despite his specific miracle not being granted, he never strayed from his faith.
"I'm going to wait for that one day where we finally find out what God needed Landon for," Brody said of his friend, causing widespread sniffles and tears to fall throughout the arena.
Landon's father, Travis, wore a black suit with a "Landon's Light" T-shirt underneath. Many of those closest to him matched this attire, including Dave Richman, the North Dakota State men's basketball coach, and the Solbergs' neighbor. Members of the Bison basketball team were also in attendance.
Travis took the stage to speak at his late son's funeral about the incredible impact Landon had. He and his wife, Andrea, were faced with a parent's worst nightmare: losing a child, a pattern that in any normal situation works the other way.
To Travis and Andrea, Landon is their hero. But what the Solbergs may not yet know, is that at 12 years old, their little boy is a hero to so many.
"Live like Landon" was not only the theme of the night, but the theme of the rest of everyone else's lives in attendance who Landon had touched.
And his story is far from over. The hundreds of people who gathered — and the many more touched by his journey — will continue to carry on his light.
"Your light will shine down forever, mission accomplished dude," Landon's friend, Parker, said at the service.
Landon would've been in sixth grade this year at Liberty Middle School. He was just 10 years old when he was diagnosed with Grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare malignant brain tumor. His prognosis was that he might live one to two years.
Landon's light will continue to shine far beyond his home in West Fargo, which he shared with his parents, 3-year-old brother Griffin, and fourth-grade sister Emry. And his story will continue to touch those both near and far.
"Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."