Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief
PONCHATOULA, LA -- Friends and family said goodbye to little Tripp Roth Wednesday. The 32-month-old child was laid to rest. He died Saturday.
Hundreds filled St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ponchatoula.
"It's a touching story," family friend Chris Benson said outside the church. "It hits home. We all have kids. To put yourself in Courtney's shoes, it's something. You can't describe it."
Courtney Roth worked tirelessly to tell Tripp's story and raise awareness of Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB. It's a rare tissue disease that causes very fragile skin, so even minor frictions cause major cuts and blisters.
"If you're looking for something positive out of a very difficult situation," State Representative and family friend Tim Burns said, "causing awareness, and their courage in bringing this to the forefront, and showing it for the painful truth that it is."
"I think the lesson that most people get is to count your blessings, things can be so much worse," family friend Joe Benson added. "He managed to smile on a daily basis with all the pain that he was in."
Many at Tripp's funeral service wore red, the color dedicated for EB awareness. And many came in large groups, like the entire Ponchatoula High School basketball team. The Green Wave practice uniforms bear Tripp's name, and they have dedicated their season to him.
"Last night, before the game, they knew from weekend that Tripp had passed, so it was an emotional game last night for us, and that's the best I've seen them play," Ponchatoula basketball coach Dustin Easley said of Tuesday night's win over Slidell, and the effect Tripp Roth has had on his players. "It motivates them. It really teaches them a lot in life, and that's what I've got to do as an educator and as a coach, reach my boys not just for the floor but things in life itself, and it's just really taught them to appreciate everything, and don't take anything for granted."
Tripp's story has spread far beyond Ponchatoula. Courtney Roth's, randycourtneytripproth.blogspot.com, has recorded more than five million hits. One flower order came to Ponchatoula Wednesday from Sweden.
"It's a testament to how he has touched the world. Not just little Ponchatoula, not just his family and friends, but the world," family friend Chris Benson added.