Adam Kreiger '95By Eva Moy
Adam M. Kreiger '95 died Aug. 10, after a four-year battle with bone cancer.
But his friends and family tell us, "Don't mourn the loss of Adam; mourn the loss of those who weren't touched by Adam."
"He touched so many people in so many different ways," said Michael Kreiger, Adam's father. "He was just an incredible kid."
"He's one of those people whom [everyone likes]. He'll definitely be missed," said Nathan A. Watson '95, Adam's roommate at Delta Kappa Epsilon for two years.
"He really wanted to be remembered [as] healthy ... because he felt that although he had a disease he wasn't a different person because of it," his mother, Shelley Kreiger, said. He had a great sense of humor, and "even when he was very sick he was fun to be with."
Adam Kreiger wanted his funeral service to be upbeat; he would "rather have people laugh about him than cry for him," Watson said. Over 1,000 people, from his hometown Trumbull, Conn., and MIT, attended the service, Watson added.
Adam Kreiger is survived by his parents, Michael and Shelley, and three sisters, Rachel, Sarah, and Deborah.
There will be a memorial service for Adam Kreiger at MIT this semester.
Adam Kreiger was diagnosed with cancer as a high school junior. He had been very athletic -- a star wrestler and cross country runner, according to Watson. He had one tumor on his leg removed, said Robert M. Randolph, associate dean for student services. But he vowed that he would be able to walk normally by the time he graduated from high school -- and he did.
Kreiger entered MIT as a premedical student in the School of Management. He had multiple recurrences of the cancer during his sophomore year. Even with radiation treatments, chemotherapy, biological treatments, and other treatments, the tumors grew out of control, Shelley Kreiger said.
"He made it seem like he could recover from anything," Watson said. But by June, "He decided that medical treatment wasn't going to do anything any more, just let it take control."
School and the MIT community
Adam Kreiger "tried to live a completely normal life," despite his cancer, Watson said. He did not let it stop him from doing what he wanted to do.
"He loved this place. He wasn't going to let sickness slow him down," DKE President Kimball D. Thurston III '94 said.
He completed most of the his sophomore year classes, in addition to weekly treatments at Yale University and in- and outpatient treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Shelley Kreiger.
He always wanted to leave the hospital early, "typically get out about a week before he was supposed to after a treatment," Watson said.
"Adam felt that cancer was a major inconvenience in his life ... but it was not who he was," Shelley Kreiger said. He had friends, school, and fun -- "everything else [is like] you are when you are 20 years old."
"Adam liked living," Shelley Kreiger added. "I don't think there's too much he didn't like."
Adam Kreiger loved the outdoors, especially the beach. "Even when he couldn't walk, he went down to the beach," Randolph said.
He also loved animated Disney movies. Thurston remembered an occasion when they came back from 101 Dalmations and jumped through all the rain puddles on the way home.
Last spring he had planned on starting classes, even though he was weaker. "I haven't known anybody who was more courageous than he," Randolph said.
Even though Adam Kreiger did not like special treatment, many people helped him out during his time at MIT. At DKE, some of his brothers helped him dress his open incisions, Randolph said. Some professors went to the hospital to give Adam Kreiger his final exams, he added.
The campus police often transported him from DKE to MG* in his sophomore year. Patrolman Francis Kane was one officer who grew to know Adam Kreiger.
"The man had a lot of guts. He walked to a lot of places he could have been transported," Kane said. Kane tried to talk with Adam and keep his spirits high. "He was the type of kid who never complained about anything."
Adam Kreiger Day
Adam Kreiger strongly believed in programs that encouraged cancer patients "not just be recipients but active doers in fighting disease in a different way," Shelley Kreiger said.
He "made you almost forget that he had this disability," and let cancer patients know that you could live a normal life.
For several years Adam Kreiger participated in the Pennsylvania Long Acre Expeditions teen camping program. He developed The Cancer Challenge, one of this summer's expeditions that involved both healthy participants and participants with cancer. "Kids had a lot to learn from each other about how to face challenges that came in front of them," whether mountains or sickness, Shelley Kreiger explained.
Although Adam Kreiger was unable to attend the program because his condition was worsening, participants wrote to him telling him about its success.
Three days after Adam's death, the town of Trumbull held an annual swimming fund raiser, Swim Across the Sound. Instead of being held in his honor, it is now being held in his memory. Adam had participated in the fund raiser in previous years, and many people who had heard his position and his philosophy also participated in the event.
In Trumbull, in support of Swim Across the Sound, Aug. 13 is now known as Adam Kreiger Day.
Also, the Kreiger family has set up an Adam Kreiger fund for cancer screening and education.