RAYTOWN, Mo. - Dozens of friends of 16-year-old Manny Palmer, who drowned in a Lee's Summit lake on Saturday, gathered at Raytown High School Sunday for an unconventional memorial.
In addition to sharing hugs, memories and tears over Palmer's untimely death, they also played ultimate Frisbee and football -- activities they knew Palmer loved.
"I feel like he should be out there with us right now. He's the one who started the whole Frisbee trend, and he'd want us to keep on going like he was still here," said Dominic Marchese, a friend of Palmer's.
Friends called Palmer a gifted athlete with a gregarious personality and a diligent student. Raytown's head football coach heaped praise on the former linebacker, as much for his off-the-field character as his play.
"Manny was a tremendous person. He was all smiles," said coach Kevin Page. "He had a very calm, easygoing personality."
Palmer had joined several friends at a private Lee's Summit lake for a swim on Saturday when witnesses say he began to struggle in 30 feet of water and quickly slipped under.
Perhaps a dozen friends held vigil for Palmer Saturday night on the shoreline as dive teams worked to recover his body.
Many of those same young people were at the school Sunday, too, tossing footballs and trying to laugh between sobs, recalling a teenager one of them called a one-man " welcoming committee."