Popular high school grad passes away from very rare condition

POSTED: 2:57 PM Dec 24 2013   UPDATED: 11:10 PM Nov 05 2013

A popular local high school graduate has passed away after battling a rare disorder that affects less than 100 people worldwide.

Jesse Wagstaff was known for his upbeat spirit at Croatan High School in Newport. But he died Monday evening from metatropic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism characterized by skeletal abnormalities. Wagstaff was 18 years old.

"Jesse was a positive kid," said Croatan High School Assistant Principal Kay Zimarino. "In many other respects, he was just like any other teenage boy in this building. He had hopes and dreams."

Doctors said they didn't expect Wagstaff to live past his infancy.

"He had a great spirit. Jesse lived by the saying, 'Never give up.' He'd always tell that to other people and he'd put it on his Facebook. He would have it on his wheelchair to 'Never give up,' and those are great words," Zimarino said.

Wagstaff graduated from Croatan High School in June 2013.