Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Peter Wesdorp III

Muscular dystrophy shortened Peter Wesdorp's life, not his spirit

ST. PETERSBURG — Peter Wesdorp decorated his room with life-sized posters of Mike Alstott and Cadillac Williams and fantasized about being a running back in the NFL. As with his delight in Harry Potter and the Twilight series, Mr. Wesdorp knew the dream could never become reality.

Mr. Wesdorp had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rapidly worsening form of MD. Since being diagnosed at age 5, he had watched his body degenerate even as it grew.

By all accounts, Mr. Wesdorp never complained.

"He was always grateful for what he had, which wasn't a whole lot," said Laurie Jackson, Mr. Wesdorp's second- and third-grade teacher at Tyrone Elementary School.

She liked young Peter's big brown eyes with long lashes, and his helpful demeanor. "I hate to say this, but in 25 years of teaching, he was one of my favorites," said Jackson, 47.

Middle and high school years were marked by academic achievement. He graduated from Pinellas Park High School in 2004 with a 4.0 GPA.

Mr. Wesdorp worked as a greeter at the 34th Street S Walmart, smiling at shoppers from a motorized wheelchair.

"Welcome to Walmart! Have a nice day."

Some shoppers were blown away. They raved about Mr. Wesdorp's attitude. Others just stared or made rude comments.

It bothered him some — but never for long. Mr. Wesdorp stayed on the job for three years.

"It's all good," he said habitually. He applied the saying to everything, including surgeries to straighten his spine or slice his shrinking Achilles' tendons: all good.

His mother made sure of that. Evalene Driemel was there to buy his books, take him to Rays games (where he met ex-Buccaneer Alstott and wrestler Hulk Hogan), and play his favorite video games with him.

Eventually, she was there to scratch his nose when it itched.

Mr. Wesdorp did not want to die. He said he was not ready. Duchenne MD usually enters its final stages with respiratory and heart problems by the time boys reach their late teens or early 20s.

At Mr. Wesdorp's request, a minister recently visited to talk about death. He stayed two hours.

"He did not want to abandon me," said Driemel, 43. Two days before he died, his mother told him it was okay to go now, that she would be fine and so would his family.

"I told him there are a bunch of people up there waiting for him," she said. "And we'll all be up there someday."

Mr. Wesdorp died Monday, at home. He was 25.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

. BIOGRAPHY

Peter Wesdorp III

Born: April 14, 1985.

Died: July 12, 2010.

Survivors: Mother Evalene Driemel and her husband, Robert; sisters Leah Wesdorp, Ginny Driemel and Erica Driemel; brother Bobby Driemel; and grandmother Evalene Strother.

Service: 2:30 p.m. Sunday (visitation 1:30 p.m.), Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, 2201 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. Reception to follow, Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, 3050 First Ave. S.

Muscular dystrophy shortened Peter Wesdorp's life, not his spirit 07/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 9:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”