Dustin Koby Wunderlich brightened this beautiful world on April 19,1984 bringing new meaning to the lives of his parents Debbie & Steve, his Grandparents & his Aunts & Uncles & Cousins……& later on 6 years 7 months later his younger brother Cory……his best friend…….forever. He came into this world with a force of his own that he carried throughout his life. As a young boy his sensitivity, compassion to the world around him & his grand ability to love Life & people deeply was apparent early on…..& that carried on as well throughout his life. From the first day we happily brought him home, his eyes were everywhere……especially at the wee hours at night when we wanted him to sleep….he continued to be a night owl always. Dustin was immensely observant of all that was around him, nothing & no one ever went by his peripheral view. From his toddler days, we can recall an ordinary day spent at home doing things of interest to a toddler. We recall looking out our back door& asking Dustin, then age 4, “What do you see?”…..He answered…”The trees”….we asked what else??......He answered a list a mile long. From that day forward, Dustin would always remind us how he saw things in Life, “BEYOND THE TREES”.
Early on, he displayed his compassionate side, clearly to those challenged & the elderly. One day he came home from school, he was about 8 years old at the time, & said “Why doesn’t anybody play with the special ed kids at recess?” After we explained the circumstances of why & the way people treat these situations because of their fears & frailties, he came home the next day & thereafter telling of his joy in seeing his new friends enjoying their dodge ball games at recess. Dustin’s grandparents resided in a senior community & he loved having sleepovers wherever & whoever would have him. We called him the “Wandering Jew”. He enjoyed sleeping at his grandparents & being helpful to their neighbors. He was quickly adored by all his grandparents’ friends & it was an adoration mutually shared.
As part of our Family Heritage, Dustin attended Hebrew School at our synagogue, Temple Beth Sholom of Smithtown. While attending Hebrew school, Dustin quickly observed a void in the school that needed to be filled. He convinced the Director of the school to allow him to start a Snack Concession that allowed the children to buy snacks so they would have them for class. This became a hit with his fellow Hebrew school students. This not only helped supply the students with snacks, it also raised substantial funds that went back to the school that funded special events & parties. This was Dustin’s first of many success stories that lasted for the years that he attended & continued beyond. In addition, he volunteered in the office of the Hebrew school for the years of his attending & beyond his Bar Mitzvah. He once said it was his way of prayer & his way of being a part of the temple community. He carried this philanthropic desire & quality throughout his Life & ultimately with his vision for PREVAIL.
After graduating high school, Dustin found himself succeeding in most endeavors that crossed his path. His natural ability to connect to people & leave an indelible mark, brought him many everlasting friendships & ties of respect. We can recall many late nights being awakened to the sound of Dustin acting on being the PROTECTOR of a friend who needs a ride home safely or is in need of just talking through a struggle. He always loved helping others & being a good friend or shoulder to lean on or problem solver. Dustin spent a number of years in his adulthood living life that appeared to have no end or as he used to say when he was still INVINCIBLE. He used to say “Let me be 19”….”Let me be 20” etc.
Then on 12/9/2008, Dustin’s Life, as well as ours, came to a screeching halt, when his not feeling well for months turned to a diagnosis of AML. The battle began with confusion & terror. Over the next 4 years & 4 months, Dustin battled his disease & quickly learned many important life lessons that remain teaching us every day. Through the great Love & support of Family & friends & medical support, he fought long & hard a very valiant battle with courage, strength & faith in staying positive always. He NEVER GAVE UP, no matter what obstacle came his way. Like everything he did in his life, he followed his Heart & Soul, in his illness as well as becoming the advocate of his fellow warriors. This is when Dustin decided that he can make a difference for others who are traveling a similar journey. Prevail was then born & with Dustin’s guidance & vision were his words for him & his fellow warriors to live by were spoken & grew to inspire………..”LIVE FOR TODAY, DREAM FOR TOMORROW”. When Dustin was feeling better he visited with fellow warriors & spent time inspiring & encouraging them taking away some of their fears & just understanding of their struggles & easing their minds to remain positive. As he stated so many times the mind was the most difficult to keep, as he would say” going places it did not need to go”. He would say staying positive was key.
Dustin through Prevail helped facilitate many Bone Marrow Drives to grow the registry & some to actually help a fellow warrior find a Match for a Bone Marrow Donor so they can have a possibility for a second chance at life with a Bone Marrow Transplant that can possibly cure them of their disease. Some of these Drives currently are continuing to offer Matches for his fellow warriors who can now have the Transplant needed for their possible recovery. Dustin’s efforts are continuing to help others PREVAIL. In this way Dustin continues to PREVAIL as well. The next chapter