Brian Joseph Slobotski was a wonder.
He couldn't walk, but he lettered in football.
He couldn't wrestle, but team members gave him their medals.
He couldn't play the violin after a few years, so he switched to drums and finally to voice lessons when muscular dystrophy robbed him of the fine motor skills needed to play a musical instrument.
Slobotski died Wednesday at Methodist Hospital of pneumonia complicated by muscular dystrophy, said his mother, Sandy Day of Omaha. He was 21.
“He's such an inspiration,” she said. “Somehow he helped everybody else realize their load wasn't that heavy.”
While attending Omaha North High School, Slobotski was team manager for football, earning him a sports letter. He also helped with the wrestling team.
He enjoyed music, too, Day said. “I think his really, really favorite instrument was his own voice,” she said. He got a standing ovation for singing “Love Me Tender” at his brother David's wedding, she said. For Christmas, Slobotski recorded carols for his mother.
Slobotski was the Nebraska Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association from 2001-03. During that time, he got to know members of the Omaha Fire Department. The department annually raises money for MDA.
Through the firefighters and his participation in MDA events, Slobotski also met many politicians, Day said.
Mayor Jim Suttle showed up at Slobotski's 2010 high school graduation party. The young man also met Sen. Ben Nelson, Sen. Mike Johanns, former Mayor Mike Fahey and other politicians, his mother said.
After high school, Slobotski was part of a transition program at the Paralyzed Veterans of America and was looking forward to starting classes at Metropolitan Community College, she said. He interned at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Mutual of Omaha, Hy-Vee Supermarkets and Hobby Lobby, Day said, and made friends everywhere.
“People loved him. He just had an infectious smile,” she said.
The Fire Department will have a presence at Slobotski's funeral, and the Omaha Professional Firefighters Local 385 will host a post-funeral luncheon at Firefighters Union Hall, 62nd and Grover Streets.
Besides his mother and brother, other survivors include his father and stepmother, Michael and Shannon Slobotski of Omaha; stepfather Kent Day of Omaha; brother Matthew Slobotski of Omaha; stepbrother Garrett Day of Omaha; stepsister Maggie Day of Omaha; and grandparents Mike Zabel of Omaha, Phyllis Day of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Herb and Dottie Mittlieder of Omaha.
Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 6905 Blondo St.
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