PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. — “How are you just so carefree and happy all the time?” said Kadence Jones. “And then he told me, ‘Kadence, life is too short to have a worry in the world. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring you, and so, you just have to live your life.'”

Those were words of wisdom relayed by Jones — the girlfriend of Alan B. Shepard student and standout soccer player Ryan Plowman — at a vigil honoring Plowman’s memory Wednesday night.

Family, friends, teammates and members of the community packed the stands at Shepard High School around the field where the 17-year-old once played, sharing memories of the young man.

“Playing all four years of high school soccer with you, listening to Taylor Swift with you in your car, even though I didn’t really like her,” said Aidan Wright, one of Plowman’s teammates. “I have so many wonderful memories I will cherish and evoke in times of great despair.”

“For the 13 years I knew him, he never changed,” said Aiden Breslin, a friend of Plowman. “He was always the kindest, most selfless and caring person you could ever know.”

Plowman suddenly and unexpectedly died last Saturday after he was rushed to Comer Children’s Hospital. It was there he tested positive for mononucleosis. A sickness that isn’t usually fatal, Plowman’s parents said treatment he received for Crohn’s disease weakened his immune system, making it unable to fight off the infection.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Plowman’s memory to help the family cover medical and funeral costs, among other financial burdens, as they try to move on from his loss.