A 15-year-old boy is on a hike of Mount Phillips at a Boy Scout camp. He carries his standard pack of about 45 pounds and is working as hard as anyone to climb the mountain.
Somewhere along the way, he notices another boy struggling with his pack, and offers to take some of the load. This makes his own pack almost half his body weight, but he doesn’t complain for the rest of the difficult hike, and the party makes it to the summit unaware of the boy’s act of generosity.
This story seems like an inspiring anecdote of altruism in a boy. But it’s more than that: it is a portrait of a life. A life of selflessness and determination. A life that ended too soon.
David Allweiss, a 2005 Pepperdine graduate, passed away Dec. 13, 2005. He was 22 years old. His marriage to Meghann Hunter was less than four months earlier.
Allweiss grew up in Mission Viejo, Calif., where he was involved with the Boy Scouts of America from a young age.
His experience in Boy Scouts left him with many of his closest friends, and a number of stories of determination and selflessness, like the one above.
On another Boy Scout camping trip in Allweiss’ senior year of high school, father Jack Allweiss related a story in which David, despite sickness, put the well-being of the other scouts above his own, insisting they go on while he waited to be taken home.
Jack Allweiss said that David always “put the others first,” which is evident in these stories of his selflessness.
At Pepperdine, Allweiss, while studying business, also developed who he was. Mother Patty Allweiss related a phase that David underwent his sophomore year at Pepperdine in which he “rebelled.” He dyed his hair black and wore black nail polish.
Allweiss even had the intent of opening a tattoo parlor, which, to his parents, was an unexpected use of his passion for business.
He passed through that phase, however, when he met Meghann Hunter in May 2003, and began a two-year relationship that ended in marriage in August 2005.
Allweiss secured a great job and had a happy life with his wife for a few months before tragedy struck.
Allweiss spent the Thanksgiving weekend with his parents in Indian Wells, Calif.
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, he was feeling perfectly fine and went on a 10-mile bike ride with his dad. That night, his mom came down with the flu which had been going around, and remained sick for a few days.
Saturday, Allweiss drove home with his wife, talking about things they had planned: a trip to Catalina Island with friends and Meghann’s trip to Utah to visit her family.
Sunday night, Allweiss began to feel sick with the flu, and he was up all night with a fever and other flu symptoms.
On Monday, Nov. 28, Allweiss spent the day trying to get healthier. He was feeling better in that afternoon, and told business associates that he would be back in the office by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Later that night, he began to feel worse. He woke up about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, feeling disoriented, and took a bath. Meghann found him in the bathtub, where he was unresponsive.
She pulled him out and called 911. Allweiss was slipping in and out of consciousness.
According to a “Live Strong” journal written by his father, but told from David’s perspective, “I asked where Meghann was and they told me she was in the front of the ambulance. I was happy about that and decided to rest. I slipped into a coma so the rest of this story is now the result of observations of others.”
The night was rough. At the hospital, Allweiss was treated to the best of their ability. After a lot of blood work, the doctors still did not know what was wrong.
One of his doctors, Dr. Nagasawa, wanted to test for leukemia. The test came back positive.
He was diagnosed with Acute Biphenotypic Leukemia on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
According to the Live Strong journal, “Everyone cried. My mom said it was the worst day of her life. But after that the family pulled themselves together and dedicated themselves to supporting me in my fight with the infection and cancer.”
The next few days were difficult, but hopeful. Allweiss was slowly fighting back, and slowly winning.
This is just one more example of his character: his drive and determination were always present, even in the shadow of great danger.
According to best friend Matt Miller, Allweiss fought hard from the beginning.
“The doctors gave him a 4% chance of making it out of the ER, and he made it out of the ER.
“They gave him a 10% chance of making it though the night, and he made it through the night.”
This again shows the kind of drive that was present in Allweiss’ life.
For two weeks, Allweiss struggled and his condition was touch and go, but he was fighting back and getting better.
He had a very aggressive form of leukemia. It had been in his system for less than five months.
For adults, there was almost no survival rate, even if it is caught.
By Dec. 10, Allweiss’ condition was not improving. The doctors expected very little chance of improvement.
The Live Strong journal entry for Dec. 13 reads, “Today the family will meet with the doctors to discuss what treatment protocol should be followed. My family now understands that I am not really here anymore, and that my body will be ravaged by the cancer shortly.”
Allweiss’ family, along with his wife, made the decision to let him go.
The journal entry continues, “They will ask the doctors to institute what they call a comfort protocol, withdraw all the machines and let my body pass naturally. I lost my fight with cancer, but others struggle on, please support them if you can.”
David passed peacefully on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 9:15 p.m. with his family and a close friend in attendance.
In his memory, Allweiss’ family is creating the David A. Allweiss Critical Care Foundation, which will help to prevent what happened to Allweiss from happening to others.
Allweiss lived a life of determination and kindness. His father, Jack Allweiss, spoke of his perseverance on mountain hiking trips:
“He always wanted to make it to the top, and he always did.”
This was the way David Allweiss lived his life, and his family and friends will remember him forever.
For more information on David Allweiss, including his Live Strong journal, as well as updates on the David A. Allweiss Critical Care Foundation, please go to www.hoa.org.