His smile and love of life were undeniable.
If you needed a hug to pick your spirits up, Adam Grigas was your man.
Talking and laughing with family and friends were mandatory aspects of his life. Whether a story was funny or serious, he was ready for it.
Mr. Grigas passed away unexpectedly Wednesday at the age of 33 of an apparent heart attack in Akron.
Mr. Grigas graduated from Firestone High School and Ohio University. He contributed to swim teams at Firestone as a student and served as an assistant coach the past two years.
“I started when Adam was a junior and nothing much has changed, always a smile on his face,” Firestone swim coach Cindy Virdo said. “He put everybody else before himself. He had a huge heart. He loved life and lived everyday to the fullest. He wanted to make sure everyone was happy.”
Mr. Grigas competed in the backstroke event and on multiple relays at Firestone. He was a two-time All-American in high school in 1997 and 1998 and swam one year at Ohio University, including competing in the Mid-American Conference championships.
“He liked the sport, but he loved the camaraderie that the sport brought,” Virdo said. “This was actually his vacation spot. He lived in Corolla, [North] Carolina, and he ran three summer businesses out there. He would come back home every November through February and spend time with his family and coach. This is just a huge loss for all of us.”
Mr. Grigas helped mentor now-graduated Firestone swimmers Mark Belanger and Katie Miller to state championship victories in Canton this past season. He also worked with youth athletes on the Firestone Akron Swim Team (FAST).
“He was great with kids and had a way of getting the job done,” Virdo said. “The kids love him and the parents love him.”
Mr. Grigas is survived by his parents, Joe Grigas and Mary Kay (Bob) Hoffmann; siblings, Joe Grigas, Jamie Grigas, and Katie (Kyle) Batdorff; and nieces, Aivery and Clara Batdorff.
“The Grigas family has been involved with Firestone and the Firestone swim program since its inception,” Virdo said. “Joe Sr. graduated with the first class and was a swimmer, and his kids swam here, too.”
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Firestone High School Natatorium, 333 Rampart Ave. Two memorial funds have been set up in honor of him, and are at http://www.gofundme.com/55b9uc and http://www.gofundme.com/55b3lw.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.