Robbie Butler's life motto was he'd rather go out like a shooting star than to have never lived, and the 24-year-old's family, friends and co-workers say as they lay him to rest on Thursday, he'll have done exactly that.
At 18-months-old, Butler was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs and carries a shorter-than-normal life expectancy. Despite being told he wouldn't reach certain milestones, Butler beat the odds and more when he graduated high school and became a volunteer firefighter with the Baconton Fire Department.
Gloria Butler, Robbie's mother, says he didn't stop there. Butler then went on to become a Mitchell County 911 Dispatcher to continue helping others, something he made his life's work.
On Saturday, Butler was set to wed his longtime girlfriend with whom he has a 4-year-old daughter with. Gloria says despite beating many obstacles, the wedding was the one thing in life he didn't get to fulfill.
Butler also leaves behind a 22-year-old brother, Jamie, who is also battling the disease and his family says they're scared it could take another child away from them too soon.
Because of Butler's illness, Baconton Fire Chief David Forrester says he was denied life insurance and to help make up for the funeral costs and medical bills, a fund has been set up.
Anyone interested in donating can send a check addressed to the "Robbie Butler Memorial Fund" to P.O. Box 449 with Planters and Citizens Bank in Camilla.
Butler's viewing will be held on Wednesday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Parker Funeral Home in Camilla followed by the full firefighter memorial service on Thursday at 2 p.m. Butler's graveside service will be held immediately after at Mount Enon Cemetery in Baconton.
Though Gloria says it's been hard to say goodbye to her son, she couldn't be more proud to see her child accomplish more in his 24 years than most do in their lifetime.