‘Aaron’s Mission’: family creates foundation to honor their son

After unimaginable tragedy, one family is trying to create a long lasting legacy for their son

ROANOKE, Va.Aaron Dean is remembered by his family as ”Oh, very stubborn,” his mom, Sandra Dean, said.

“His way was the best,” Aaron’s brother, Thomas Dean said. “And sometimes he proved that.”

But according to Sandra and Thomas, the thing that he was most stubborn about, was his career goals.

“He knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a missionary,” Sandra said. “He got saved when he was five. It was real. He knew what he was doing.”

His faith was evident in his mission work in third world countries, like Guatemala, up until his passing on Valentine’s Day 2021, caused by an unexpected illness.

“Now when I look back, I think it was just God,” Sandra said.

His passing was a shock to his community.

“The two of us thought that he was just going to come to walk back into our house,” Sandra said.

Throughout his many surgeries and doctor’s appointments, Sandra said that his faith never wavered.

“He was not afraid,” Sandra said. “He said, ‘If I die, the worst thing that could happen to me is that I die, and I get to see Jesus before you.’”

After his passing, Aaron’s family wanted to plan the funeral his way. And Aaron’s dad Bryan did just that.

”He said, ‘Aaron loved missions. Let’s forget about flowers and donate,’” Sandra said.

Thomas agreed.

“They’ll be dead in a week, don’t worry about the flowers,” Thomas said.

“He said, ‘let’s do something that will last for eternity,’” Sandra said.

They raised enough money for Aaron’s good friend Jesse to get through the first phase of his mission trip to Indonesia. And that’s when the idea for Aaron’s Mission clicked into place.

“I heard this little voice saying ‘that’s what I want you to do,’” Thomas said.

Aaron’s Mission officially kicks off on August 30, on what would have been Aaron’s 26th birthday, with an event at the Taubman. His family hopes that this is just the start of preserving his legacy.

“We just loved him so much,” Sandra said.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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