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Muskegon Co. boy spreading joy across the globe a decade after his passing

Nik Wypa's parents have been placing Matchbox cars for people to find in their son's honor, and they're still being found all over the world.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — As the sun sets on Churchill Elementary School, David and Lisa Wypa stand on a pathway named after their son, Nikolas. A red-tailed hawk flies by and perches in a tree.

"Nik always used to say 'Oh that's just a hawk!'" Lisa laughed.

That bird of prey may be a sign of Nik is watching over his parents as they walk toward the spot where he took his last breath on June 4, 2012.

"It was field day at his school and a piece of pea gravel got lodged in his windpipe, and he was gone in seconds. I was right there. There was nothing we could do," Lisa said.

But the Wypas don't want their son to be remembered as "the little boy who passed away at school."

"I want him to be remembered for what a good boy he was and what his memory is doing now," Lisa said.

After Nik's passing, Lisa and David found a way to use one of their son's greatest passions to spread love to other children.

"Nik loved Matchbox cars, so we started thinking, what could we do to honor his memory with a Matchbox car? So, we got the cars and we bought the little cards to put on them. And we started by putting them in all of the places that Nik loved to go," Lisa said.

The card comes with a simple request, if you find a car, take a photo and post it to a Facebook page called "In Loving Memory of Nikolas Wypa- Touched by Nik." 

"Now his Facebook page has over 6,500 likes. The cars have been on every continent, and also to the Great Wall of China. I know he's looking down with a big smile," Lisa said.

The Wypas have received messages from people who say finding a car made a bad day better. Some say they give their child an extra hug at night because of it. Some even share their own grief over the loss of a child.

"It puts a smile on these on these little kids' faces when they get the cars, and we're just overwhelmed that it's continuing to this day. It's kind of taken a life of its own," David said.

With the help of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Wypas have also given scholarships in Nik's name to fifth graders across the Mona Shores school district. Those scholarships are then put into a trust, and are eventually given to the students when they graduate.

"Two years ago, the first kids started graduating and receiving their scholarships. And now that's happening every year. We also make it a point to get a picture with the four graduates that received it back seven years prior, which is pretty cool," David said.

The pathway at the playground at Churchill Elementary School has also been dedicated to Nik, beginning with an archway featuring sculpted plants and butterflies.

"He would love it. That's the type of kid he was. I'm sure he's smiling down from Heaven. I hope he's proud of us," Lisa said.

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