Huan (Tom) Hsu’s funeral was held at 10:30am on Monday morning at the Howick Baptist Church. Tom was a 16 year old from Taiwan, in his second year as an international student at Elim Christian College. He also lived with cerebral palsy. I remember hearing a man talk about him in an interview, I think it was Tony McClean’s dad, saying how Tom had trouble talking, and his hands weren’t useful, but his legs were great. I believe he was in the Special Olympics. This year he was also a peer support leader and on the student council.
Tom was described as being very funny, always cheerful, God-loving and having the ability to do his best in all he did.
Tom and and teacher Tony McClean were the final two left on the canyon ledge in the rising waters at Mangatepopo last week. Mr. McClean tied Tom, who couldn’t swim, to himself before setting off into the swollen river. They were the final two to be found by search and rescue below the dam, their bodies still tied together. As the NZ Herald reports, Mr. McClean’s mum was an international liason at the school, and told those gathered at Tom’s funeral she was glad that her son “didn’t die alone”.
About 300 people attended his funeral, where friends and teachers spoke about “a lively, genuine and funny boy, who was constantly encouraging his friends.” Tom’s parents were also at the funeral after arriving from Taiwan, and thanked the school community for their love and support of them and their son. Tom was remembered as funny, outgoing and
disabled but not disabled
Kish Proctor was Tom’s friend from school, and a survivor of the flash flood at Mangatepopo. He talked about Tom’s will and his encouragement of his friends. He said that if he were to describe Tom in three words they would be “courage, strength and perseverance”
“It was a privilege and an honour to know him. He was my brother.”
The NZ Herald writes how a video he made at last year’s camp was played at his funeral, a video of his testimony:
“Hey, maybe some of you guys know me. I’m Tom. But don’t get me confused with Tom Cruise – I’m better looking.
“I always asked God, why? Why am I so different? Do I really need to care about what others think of me?
“God loves me, he made everyone different.”
I didn’t know Tom Hsu or his family, the information above I read on various current event websites such as The New Zealand Herald. I repeated this information here because I want more people to know about Tom and I want him to always be remembered.