Thousands gathered on Saturday at the LaBelle Middle School in LaBelle, Fla., to pay their respects to Zachary Reyna, the boy who lost his battle to a rare brain-eating amoeba on Aug. 24.
The burial service for the 12-year-old was held at a nearby cemetery soon after a public visitation service, which was attended by hundreds of family members, friends and even strangers, according to reports.
Reyna contracted the brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri on Aug. 3 while knee boarding in a ditch with his friends near his house in LaBelle. Naegleria fowleri is found in warm, fresh water, and the amoeba enters the body through the nose and travels to the brain.
Reyna was being treated with an experimental drug that is being used to treat Kali Hardig in Arkansas, who is only the third survivor in the last 50 years to so far successfully battle the deadly parasite, according to a CNN report.
“This infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of," Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health told CNN affiliate, WMC, about Hardig's case. "Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die."
Hardig, 12, who was hospitalized on July 19 after contracting the infection, is still undergoing treatment at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Ark., but her condition is improving, according to Tom Bonner, a spokesperson for the hospital.
Bonner told CNN that Hardig is eating, drinking, smiling and talking, and is even walking with assistance during therapy sessions. A recent photograph posted on “Prayers For Kali Le Ann,” a Facebook page that acts as a message board for Hardig shows the teen smiling while sitting up in bed.
This marks an improvement in her condition from earlier this summer when she was unresponsive and unable to breathe without the assistance of a breathing tube.