ROY -- Braden Howe never let life's obstacles get in his way.
When Howe was 13, he was hit and run over by a truck while he was on his bicycle, an accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair and dependent on technology to breathe, a life that ended Thursday evening for the 27-year-old Roy resident.
Yet he earned a bachelor's degree in telecommunication from Weber State University and held down a job.
"And he was never, ever sad. He was never, ever angry," though he had the right to be, his mother, Nancy Howe, said.
The Roy home she and her husband, Lindsey, share is quieter now that Braden is gone. His breathing tube fell out Wednesday. He suffered extensive brain damage and died Thursday evening at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
His mother places a candid picture of him when he was 13, just before the accident, on the coffee table. He's bright-eyed and all smiles, bursting with life on a basketball court. Next to the candid shot is a portrait photo from his senior year in high school. Except for the game of hoops, nothing changed.
He went on to graduate from Weber State University in 2008, the first quadriplegic graduate in the school's history.
From there, he earned a summer internship with WSU as a programmer. He was able to control a computer mouse with only a silver sticker on his forehead, a motion detector and a tube he would breathe in or out of to click left or right.
Lindsey Howe related that his son was so productive, always asking "give me more, give me more," that WSU recommended him to Hill Air Force Base. Hill hired him at the end of his internship.
He could be at work without his 75-pound ventilator, thanks to an implant that moved his diaphragm for him and allowed him to breathe on his own. In 2007, he became the 21st person to receive the device, pioneered by Raymond Onders, M.D., a surgeon at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Howes recall when, several years ago, Onders told them that their son was featured on his website as an example of someone living life after a serious spinal injury. He related to them about how patients find hope for a better life thanks to that, Nancy Howe said.
"Look at the light he brought to so many people."
At work, Braden bought a vase and a dozen roses for a coworker who was depressed. The gift came with a note: pass the vase along to other people, with something different inside it, to brighten their day.
That was one year ago. The day Braden died, his family heard that the vase, after making several rounds through the office, had wound up on a new employee's desk.
Nancy Howe looks back on her son's life and says if Braden could accomplish all that he did, no one has an excuse.