Dec. 30, 2011 — -- More than 1,500 people attended a memorial service for Texas teenager Ben Breedlove, whose YouTube video about life with a heart condition and brushes with death have become an international viral sensation.
While family, friends and fans gathered at Austin's Gateway Church, countless others watched a live-stream of the memorial online.
Breedlove, 18, who said he cheated death three times despite a dangerous heart condition, died Christmas night from a heart attack, but not before posting a two-part video on YouTube telling his story and describing a series of powerful visions.
In the videos, Breedlove can be seen silently sitting in a room and using handwritten note cards to tell his story. The teen suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which one part of the heart is thicker than the other parts, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.
Breedlove posted the videos titled "This is my story" on Dec. 18 and died one week later on Christmas. Since then, the videos have been viewed more than 2.3 million times.
"It's exciting to know that Ben planted a seed in people's mind to begin thinking about things that really do matter in life," Ben's mother Deanne Breedlove told ABC News' Austin affiliate KVUE at the memorial. "You know, we all have hope. Everyone has challenges, but we have a real hope and he saw that. He felt the peace of God when he had those glimpses into heaven and heavenly presence."
The memorial was held in a large auditorium where photos of a happy Breedlove with his family and friends were projected on a large screen.
His sister Ally Breedlove spoke during the service and recalled her brother's descriptions of powerful visions during previous episodes of cardiac arrest. He described a bright light and being overcome with a feeling of peace.
Ally Breedlove said her brother told her, "God let me feel that peace before I came back so that I would know that heaven is worth it."
Ben Breedlove said in the video, through note cards, that the first time he cheated death was when he was 4 and described an experience he had in the hospital as he was being wheeled on a stretcher.
"There was this big bright light above me ... I couldn't make out what it was because it was so bright. I told my mom, 'Look at the bright light' and pointed up. She said she didn't see anything," Breedlove wrote. "There were no lights on in this hall. I couldn't take my eyes off it. And I couldn't help but smile. I had no worries at all, like nothing else in the world mattered."
As Breedlove held up each card telling the story, he alternated serious looks with broad smiles.
"I cannot even begin to describe the peace, how peaceful it was," he wrote. "I will NEVER forget that feeling or that day.
He underwent surgery May 3, 2009, to insert a pacemaker and the second time Breedlove cheated death, he said, was in the summer of 2011. He went to the hospital for tonsil surgery and ended up going into cardiac arrest.
"It was a miracle that they brought me back," Breedlove wrote. "I was scared to die, but am SO glad I didn't."
His third brush with death was the one earlier this month when he passed out at school and awoke surrounded by EMS medics preparing to use shock pads to revive him. "I really thought to myself, this is it. I'm dying," Breedlove wrote.
He recalled a dream or vision where he was in a silent, white room with no walls and he felt "that same peaceful feeling I had when I was 4."
Kid Cudi on Ben Breedlove
"I was wearing a really nice suit and, so was my fav rapper, Kid Cudi," Breedlove wrote. He said he thought to himself, "Damn, we look good."
"I then looked at myself in the mirror, I was proud of MYSELF, of my entire life, everything I have done," Breedlove wrote. "It was the BEST feeling."
He said he thought of lyrics from a Kid Cudi song that said, "When will the fantasy end, when will the heaven begin?" Kid Cudi sat him down at a glass desk and told him, "Go now."
"I didn't want to leave that place," Breedlove wrote. "I wish I NEVER woke up."
Kid Cudi responded to the videos on his website, writing that he "broke down" when he saw the video.
"This has really touched my heart in a way I can't describe, this is why I do what I do. Why I write my life, and why I love you all so much," Kid Cudi wrote. "We love you Ben. Forever. Thank you for loving me."
Cudi added, "To Ben's family, you raised a real hero, he's definitely mine. You have my love."
Breedlove had two popular YouTube channels, "BreedloveTV" and "OurAdvice4You," on which he would talk about his own life as well as dishing out relationship advice for his peers. Facebook and YouTube have been inundated with tributes to Breedlove.
At least three Facebook pages have been dedicated to Breedlove, with over 47,000 fans between them.
"In the 18 years that he lived, he lived bigger and more than people that live to be 80 and I think that his message is going to be incredible," Breedlove family friend Jill Scott told KVUE at the memorial.
A fundraiser been established on behalf of the Breedlove family to help them continue spread Ben's message and support others with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Click here to learn more.