Community holds vigil for principal who died after donating bone marrow

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WESTFIELD -

Hundreds of members of the Westfield community gathered for a vigil to remember the life of a school principal who died after donating bone marrow to a boy he did not know.

The group filled the front lawn of Westfield High School to honor Principal Derrick Nelson. There was a candlelight vigil with music by the Westfield choir.

Nelson was trying to help a child in France when he died from complications following the donation. Those who knew him say that this sacrifice is one that matched his kind and giving character.

RELATED: Students, parents mourn beloved Westfield principal who died after donating bone marrow 

“He was selfless with his students. He was selfless with his country. He was selfless with family and friends,” said student Briana Hatch.

Nelson’s fiancée Sheronda Baker said that he was contacted by a group called Be The Match. They suggested that he might be able to save the life of a 14-year-old boy from France. In February Nelson told the school newspaper that he decided to go forward with the procedure.

"If it's just a little bit of pain for a little bit of time that can give someone years of joy, it's all worth it,” Nelson said.

“He truly is our hero,” Baker said.

Nelson leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter.

There is now an effort underway to rename the high school in Nelson’s honor.

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