Friends, family help parents celebrate late son’s 18th birthday

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LENEXA, Kan. -- Thursday would've been a Shawnee Mission West student's 18th birthday.

Seventeen-year-old Houston St. John was killed in a car accident last year on I-435. This is the first birthday his family is celebrating without him.

A small get together turned into a huge birthday bash to honor a life that lasted only 17 years, but still managed to capture the hearts of everyone here.

"He just lived life with passion. Anything anybody says about him, he probably packed more in 17 years than most people do in 95," Houston's dad David St. John said. Family, friends, classmates and teammates of Houston showed up at Journey Church, to show his parents just how much he meant to them.

"They have taken an event for us that would've been unbearable to celebrate his birthday alone without him, and they've made it something so special to celebrate," Theresa, Houston's mother, said. "We've seen a pouring out of love for him that is far beyond anything we could've ever dreamed.

Their son was driving on I-435 in Lenexa when police say he lost control of his car and died in a crossover accident.

Houston St. John"I didn't know you could miss something so much," David said. Within a split second, their home went from being full of life and song to seemingly empty. "It seems real quiet. Real quiet."

The St. John family wasn't sure how to cope with this day, their first birthday without the sound of Houston's voice.

"You'd give your very life just to hug him again. Just to say happy birthday. Just to see him again."

Even though they can't see their son physically, they see him through all of the lives he changed and the impact he made in his 17 years on earth.

Those at the party wore red shirts. Close to 400 were sold and proceeds will go to a scholarship in Houston's name.