HUNDREDS have gathered in America to farewell a former Sunshine Coast teenager in America who died in his sleep last week.
The memorial service for Gaven Johnson was attended by 200 people in Newport Beach, California, over the weekend.
Gaven, who lived and studied on the Sunshine Coast for six years, died on December 28 in his sleep while at a friend's home.
He was 17.
Gaven's father Zachary recalled the reasoning behind a Yin and Yang tattoo shared by father and son.
"When I was Gaven's age I gave myself a tattoo. It seemed like a good idea at the time," he said.
"Fortunately, I chose a symbol representative of an important guiding principle in my life then that persists to this day.
"About a month ago, Gaven got the same tattoo.
"He explained that the combination of a special connection to me and the meaning behind the symbol would give him motivation to seek and find balance in his own life."
Zachary said he was profoundly proud of his son and marvelled at his ability to do just about everything with ease.
"People have spoken and written about his skill in the surf or with a guitar but what came most easily to him was his smile and hearty laugh that drew people near and his deep sensitivity and genuine compassion that kept friends close - regardless of the physical distance separating them from him."
Gaven's uncle Jeremy Johnson recalled his first impression of Gaven on his arrival to America in 2011.
"He and I found common ground for many reasons.
"One of those was that we listened to each other," Jeremy said.
"When he struggled I did my best to empathize while always being honest with him yet we rarely missed a chance to have a laugh."
Gaven spent the prime years of his life on the Sunshine Coast.
It's where his family hope to one day in the coming months return to so they can spread his ashes out over the Coast waters.
Anyone wanting to donate to the fund for the family's airfares back to Australia to release Gaven's ashes can do so at gavensfund.com.
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