GARDINER — Brandon left us peacefully on Thursday, April 7, 2011, in his mother's arms, and was surrounded by people who helped care for him. This was the end of a lifelong struggle with congenital muscular dystrophy.
Brandon was born on Jan. 18, 1993, to Roy and Diane (Ihle) Renkin. He lived his whole life in, and was embraced by, the Gardiner/Mammoth community. At the time of his death, he was a proud member of the 2011 Graduating Senior Class of Gardiner High School.
During Brandon's preschool years, it became evident that he could adapt to any challenge he faced. He mastered the art of operating a power wheelchair at age 3. Brandon demonstrated a tremendous amount of inner strength, energy and maturity that would help him succeed throughout his school years. He also met many influential people in the medical community, and began to build social friendships that lasted for the rest of his life.
School was important to Brandon. He took advantage of the environment to excel academically and demonstrate he could be everyone's friend. He earned the love and respect of his teachers and schoolmates. Despite his challenges, physical education was his favorite class. Brandon became a member of the National Honor Society in 2009, and received the 2011 "Yes I Can!" award from the State of Montana, which recognizes academic achievement among students with diverse abilities. He was accepted to attend Montana State University, where his goal was to earn a degree in computer science.
At the age of 6, Brandon joined the family of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Through his participation in summer camps, telethons and other MDA-sponsored events, he met many supportive, loving, and caring people. Brandon served as the 2000 and 2001 MDA Goodwill Ambassador to the State of Montana. In 2000, he received the Brett French Memorial Award presented by the Montana Professional Firefighters for the camper "who had the most fun." He leaves behind many lifelong friends in the MDA community.
Brandon's favorite pastimes were hanging out with friends, playing video games, listening to music and socializing on Facebook. In his earlier years, he enjoyed dressing up in costumes (especially Batman and Zorro), camping, carrying his sword and playing hide-and-seek. Brandon's first job as a movie critic had the townsfolk eagerly awaiting his weekly reviews. Later, he enjoyed board games, poker nights, school dances, Steelers football and Penguins hockey, summer camp, and going on summertime "walks."
Brandon was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Roy Renkin; and by his maternal grandparents, Homer and Charlotte Ihle. He is survived by his parents; sister, Caitlin; paternal grandmother, Lucille Renkin; very special friend, Jennifer Palecek; and many close friends and relatives.
Everyone who came in contact with Brandon developed a unique and lasting relationship. He was as much a teacher and role model as he was a student and friend.
Cremation has already taken place, and in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Brandon Renkin Memorial Scholarship Fund established at First Interstate Bank, P.O. Box 810, Gardiner, MT, 59030. A celebration of life will be held at the Gardiner School on Saturday, April 23, beginning at 1 p.m. Brandon was truly an amazing and inspirational young man who will be sorely missed by all.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.