People remember his smile, faint but always prevalent. But mostly, 17-year-old Daniel McCauley is remembered for being an all-around great kid, with a lot going for him.
A Palm Beach Central High School junior, he was on the varsity football and wrestling teams. Known for his positive outlook on life, McCauley was enthusiastic about his future.
This is how friends and family remember McCauley, whose life was cut short by a car accident Wednesday, Feb. 22 on Forest Hill Blvd. near Okeeheelee Park. McCauley was traveling eastbound when, for unknown reasons, his car went off the road before striking a pole.
Since McCauley’s untimely death, his family and friends have been finding ways to celebrate and remember his life — from a memorial at the site of the accident, adorned with balloons, flowers, footballs, his wrestling jersey and a medal, to an outpouring of support on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr.
The day after the accident, McCauley’s friend Jennifer Lisenbey began by putting up the Facebook page, “R.I.P. Danny McCauley.” The page received an overwhelming response, as friends posted and reposted it all over people’s walls and pages.
With community support, the page has since reached more than 7,670 “likes.”
“I never expected it to get that many likes,” Lisenbey said. “I’m so glad that this happened.”
As Lisenbey along with other friends posted their thoughts about McCauley on the page, someone came up with the idea of getting his favorite singer, Taylor Swift, to do a memorial concert for him. The idea soon took off with a Facebook page — “Get Taylor Swift to Notice Danny McCauley” — and a Twitter campaign, #Doit4danny.
Lisenbey and friend Asia Garcia also created a YouTube video, which talks about who McCauley was and explains why they believe Taylor Swift should recognize him. “We have gotten over 9,000 views on that video,” she said.
With all the effort everyone has been making on behalf of Danny, Taylor Swift is not yet committed to the cause. “We have been going back and forth with her publicist and agency,” Lisenbey said. “We are trying to get her to realize what we are doing, but her publicist said that since she is on tour, it’s going to be difficult to do something now.”
McCauley would listen to Swift’s music all the time. “He would listen to her in his jeep, at home and in school,” Lisenbey said. “So we thought getting her involved in some way would be a great way to remember Danny.”
McCauley’s older brother David McCauley remembers him listening to Swift before a game. “Right before a wrestling match, [he] and his buddy would listen to Taylor Swift to get them pumped up,” he said.
David was pleased to know how much his brother touched the lives of so many people. “It speaks volumes on how Danny affected other people,” he said.
The McCauley family is grateful for the community’s support. “It makes my family feel really good about the amount of support we have gotten,” David said. “It means the world to us.”
As an active fisherman, McCauley had a love for being outdoors and was known for wearing Guy Harvey shirts. “Danny was very well-known for fishing,” Lisenbey said. “He wore Guy Harvey shirts all the time to school.”
Friends contacted Guy Harvey and told him about McCauley, and the artist decided to honor him by presenting a signed print of his work to the McCauley family.
At Palm Beach Central High School, Principal Butch Mondy said students have formed a committee, which is in charge of putting together activities and events related to remembering McCauley. “We have also been working very closely with his family to make sure they are involved in it as well,” he said.
As soon as Mondy heard about the accident, he along with other officials responded quickly to students’ needs. “We immediately brought in the district crisis team,” he said. “We had probably 15 to 17 guidance counselors and psychologists just for them to talk.”
Mondy was most impressed by the students’ reaction. “How they support each other is just amazing,” he said. “Everything they have been doing is very much from the heart, all about showing love for Daniel and being very supportive of his family.”
Other observances also were seen at the school, from a small memorial by McCauley’s parking spot to a barbecue on Monday with 800 students and family members. “Students got to speak about Daniel and how they knew him and loved him,” Mondy said. “It was very nice.”
As for McCauley’s parking spot, students came up with the idea of possibly making it a spot for the senior scholar athlete of the year to park.
McCauley’s funeral took place Tuesday at Christ Fellowship in Royal Palm Beach, where friends and family spoke about his life.
McCauley’s friends have planned an event to honor him through fishing, called the “Fish for Danny Day.” The event is open to anyone who wants to fish, and will be held on March 11 at the Lake Worth Pier.