Bradley Helt died Monday night. The Westport teenager attended Westport schools before enrolling at Fairfield Prep. Last month, the junior backstroker helped his Prep swim team win the state LL championship. Today, his many friends mourn his outgoing personality and wonderful spirit.
Longtime friend and former swim teammate Nathaniel Boley wrote this remembrance last night. This morning, Staples High School principal John Dodig read it to the student body.
Many of us have known Bradley since we were very young. Whether it be from Long Lots, Coleytown Middle, Little League baseball or the Westport YMCA Water Rats, Bradley developed friendships that have lasted through the years.
Whatever your connection to Bradley may be, I’m sure you remember him as the charismatic, outgoing, and always-joking young man who never failed to brighten spirits and bring out the best in all of us.
Whether you were close with Bradley or not, you were very familiar with his personality and incredible sense of humor. When he wasn’t making you laugh, he was busy being a great friend. Bradley was the type of person that I know I will never come across again. I can only hope that a part of him will live on in everyone who was fortunate enough to know him.
Those of us who swam with Bradley know best how truly amazing he was. Swimmers spend more time together than most other sports; countless hours training, competing and bonding lead to friendships that last lifetimes. Bradley’s friendships will last beyond his days, and he will be remembered as a teammate, a friend, and a brother.
Even though Bradley may no longer be with us, he lives on in our hearts, where he settled when we first met him. I was fortunate enough to have spent countless sleepovers, practices, and the occasional family vacation with Bradley, and have found that his time with us is best explained by a quote from one of his favorite movies:
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
You are a legend Bradley, and you will be remembered forever. May you rest in peace.
What was the cause of death?
I heard it was a suicide 🙁 I feel so badly for his loved ones.
Dear Helt Family,
You must be going through pain that we are not able to even imagine.
Many, many of us will be praying for you and Bradley.
The Podolsky family
That is five (5) youngsters who have died prematurely in the last two years from this town. We lost seven (7) my senior year at Staples in ’66. Haven’t we learned anything???? Sad. Angry.
you really shouldnt use this sort of tone. yes it is sad, but even more so for those who knew him well.
What is most important right now is to offer our condolences to the Helt family and remember Bradley as the sweet, genuine and funny person that he was. Rest in peace Brad, you are truly one of a kind.
What a tragedy, I’m sad and angry too. I wish they would name it, call it suicide if that’s indeed what it is. Shine a light on it, talk with the kids about suicide, instead of leaving it to rumor and gossip. What a tremendous loss, to the family and the community, so very sad indeed. My prayers are with his family and friends.
Dear Helt Family,
I am so sorry for your loss. Everyone around town is praying for you and Bradley, even the people who knew very little of him. And everyone around town is supporting him in any way we can. Stay strong and know he is in a great place looking down at all of us. He will be missed dearly.
We all lose when a child dies. My prayers go out to Bradley’s
family and all those grieving a life taken too soon.
Dear Helt Family,
I am so sorry for your loss. Truly the loss of a child is a loss to us all. I want you to know that in your pain that Bradley’ s premature passing has served as a wake up call in our household.. It set in motion a dialogue that could possibly be saving a life. You can be assured we will never forget Bradley.
I hope all Westport families more fully address their children; talk to them and to their friends. Bradley has reminded us all in the community to focus on our youth.
Our prayers are with you.
Bradley was an outsized personality. Years ago, when he was in elementary school, he was among the smallest kids on the pool deck. But he was among the largest personalities, always identifiable to everyone who knew him. I spent many an hour in the stands with Bradley’s parents and grandparents, and we never had trouble spotting Bradley among the teeming masses of kids thronging the deck.
Bradley brought joy to all around him. He was an instigator of mirth, a bright smiling ray of sunshine. He was a leader of goofy boys, and he was always surrounded by giggling girls. He made the world brighter with his smile and his laugh. He was an entertainer, full of life and love. He will be sorely missed.
We are with his parents, his brother Jeffrey, his Wahoo, Prep, WRAT, and Staples teammates in our grief. We are sure that Bradley leaves us better for having known him, and we will treasure those moments of energy and life.
I am so, so sorry for your loss. To all who knew him, loved him, and who he loved.
Dear Helt Family, you are in our thoughts and prayers. Words can’t convey the heaviness we feel in our hearts; we can only pray for the strength to get us all through this most difficult time. We feel blessed to have shared the love of swimming with Bradley; the swim community is close knit and Bradley easily stood out from the crowd with his effortless style and grace in the water as well as his easy smile and positive attitude. We will surely miss you, Bradley; rest in peace.
The Newton Family
I can’t stop thinking about how Bradley loved to make people laugh. He always reminded me of a Flavio character from a Commedia dell’Arte play. He was a short, wiry version of Jim Carrey. When I look at photos that I took of him (http://wrat.smugmug.com/2011-2012/Bradley-Helt), I can easily see him playing Stanley Ipkiss in “The Mask.”
As Iain said above, Bradley will be sorely missed. I only hope that his parents, his brother and the rest of his family know that Bradley touched each and every person he ever met. It sounds trite, but he was unique.
Perhaps because he was a swimmer, or perhaps because I know he is in a better place, I keep thinking of a Swinburne poem I learned in school:
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be…
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
Amidst the whirlwind of emotions Bradley’s untimely death leaves us with, one feeling towers above all others – we will all miss Bradley very, very much.
On behalf of many swim teams around the state, please know that we are heartbroken for you, and have you in our prayers. Bradley was always a big presence on deck, known by many, for his enthusiasm and team spirit. We hope to commemorate him appropriately when the time is right. Please know you are in our hearts.
Bradley was also an excellent baseball player and pitcher. He could have played on any of the Little League All-Star teams, yet he chose to play for the unaffiliated Wesport team coached by me and Aaron Caplan called the Slippery Diamond Commondos, composed primarily of kids unable to make the Little League District teams. Bradley didn’t care that we had a mix of talent, as we let anyone join who wanted to play. He liked the low key
approach of the team and the fact that he could miss games for swim meets. For such a young man he really had his priorities straight.
That was our third season, and Bradley was a huge part of the reason we went from the I-84 League doormat, to the team no one wanted to play. We were the only team all season to beat Wilton, and of course Bradley was on the mound for that game and was brilliant. He was a delight to coach, an excellent teammate to the other Commandos, and a kid who always knew how to do the right thing. Aaron, I and all the Commandos will miss him and join the Helt family in mourning his loss and celebrating his life.
May Bradley rest in peace. Thank you Dan Woog for sharing … God bless.
Brad, Your Uncle Chuck Sznkiewicz and I leave this…..Rest in Peace, life is only a thought and you are with who love you so. Bless you. Uncle Chuck, says he can not wait to meet you and be with Gran! God bless you Brad! Joanie