WHEELING - Michael Carroll, the teenager who invented Michael's Meanies stress relief toys to help children cope with cancer, died at early Thursday.
A Wheeling Park High School student, Carroll, 17, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003 and received treatments for three years.
On June 17, 2013, Carroll was diagnosed with a glioblastoma grade IV brain tumor.
In this undated photo, Michael Carroll shows off his Michael’s Meanies toys that he created to deal with the stress of cancer — the disease which took his life early Thursday.
On his website, Carroll explained why he wanted to invent the toys, named Terry the Terrible Tumor, Lily Lymphoma and Lousy Louie Leukemia. He dubbed the toys "the way a child with cancer can give it back to their sickness."
"I wanted to give something to the kids that they could take their anger out on. I thought of making these into a stress ball-like toy that the kids can squeeze hard, punch or even throw them. My ultimate goal is for every child diagnosed with cancer to get one during their treatment," he wrote.
Carroll's Michael's Meanies are now in hospitals in every state in the United States.
Carroll was the son of Paul and Linda Carroll of Wheeling Island. Linda Carroll described life with her son as an incredible journey.
"The outpouring has been wonderful. It is very sad - we're lost right now," Linda Carroll said.
She said Michael's visitation is set for 4-8 p.m. Sunday and 1-8 p.m. Monday at Altmeyer Funeral Home, 14th and Eoff streets, Wheeling, where the funeral is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Linda Carroll said her son passed away at home, which is where he wanted to be. He was born at 2:15 p.m. March 5, 1997, and he died at 2:15 a.m. Thursday. Up until the end, like always, he told everyone he was "fine."
"He was a fighter until the end," she said.
Ron Green, director of the Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run & Walk for Leukemia, said Carroll was a past recipient of funds raised by his race.
"I'm devastated about it. I know how he was an inspiration to me and so many people all over the world. Kids who had cancer, he hated to see them cry - that's how he got idea for Michael's Meanies," Green said. "He wanted to help ease their pain. Michael cared about everyone else. He had cancer, but he wasn't going to let that stop him. It didn't - he won the battle every day. He took life by the horns and enjoyed living and loving everybody. ... I will never forget him."
Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo said Carroll would be missed by the school community.
"On behalf Ohio County Schools, we're very sad about the loss of Michael. He touched the lives of everyone he knew. His creation of Michael's Meanies signifies his compassion for others. We're very proud of his efforts and we admire his courage. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family. Michael will be missed," Vargo said.
In a statement, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said Carroll's family was in his thoughts and prayers.
"Michael always put the needs of others before himself. Michael's life is an example to us all," McKinley said.