SIOUX FALLS, SD -
JP Peters passed away Saturday after a long battle with health issues. His family says he never let that keep him down.
The 12-year-old was born with HSAN; he struggled with immune deficiency and kidney disease.
"Despite the health conditions and medical set backs that he had, JP just loved life. And he never let his condition, his medical condition, define who he was," father Jason Peters said.
While he spent much of his life in a hospital, his parents say JP was just like any other kid who liked fishing and hanging out with his friends.
"He didn't get to go to school near as much as he would have liked. But when he was there, he absolutely loved being there. He was the one kid who was mad when he didn't get to go to school," Jason said.
"Any day that was a good day, he lived it to the fullest. He went to school. He was with his friends. He did all kinds of stuff that let JP define who he was," mother Deanna Peters said.
JP even sent his family some flowers for Valentine's Day this year, just days before he passed away.
"We think that he showed Jesus to other people. And we really believe that's why people were drawn to him, whether they knew that's what they were seeing or not," Jason said.
Another group that became a central part of the Peters family were the doctors and nurses at Sanford.
"The medical staff at Sanford has done a phenomenal job over the last 12 years. And without them, we wouldn't have had him for 12 years," Deanna said.
"They became part of our family. And I think in a lot of ways, we became part of theirs," Jason said.
Even though JP had to fight illness most of his life, his parents say he never once let that slow him down.
"There was never a day that he felt sorry for himself. He may have wanted to be like other kids, and he may have wished to be like his friends. But I don't think he ever lived his life feeling sorry for himself," Deanna said.
"There were moments, just like with anyone. Sometimes we'd tuck him into bed at night, and he'd tell us he wishes he could be like his friends. In some ways, I think maybe it was a blessing he wasn't because he taught us an awful lot through everything he went through," Jason said.
The family is asking that memorials be sent to the Sioux Falls Catholic School System under the "JP Peters Memorial Scholarship," or to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
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