Life Story

Peder Wishart HedbergPeder Wishart Hedberg was kind, loving, generous, fun, a loyal friend, courageous and a faithful Christian. He loved family, camp, kids, basketball, ultimate frisbee and had a great sense of humor and smile.

Peder was born April 11, 1986 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He lived in Minnesota with his family, parents Paul and Hope, and older brother Eric. At the age of 10, Peder’s family moved to Homewood, Illinois. He made friends easily and stayed in contact with them – it was in Homewood that Peder met some of his best friends. Sports were an important part of his life, (little league baseball, soccer, basketball, flag football, volleyball, golf and swimming). For the four summers during high school (2002-2005), Peder worked for South Suburban Special Recreation Association (SSSRA) in Tinley Park, Illinois (one of the PHF donation recipients) where he worked in the day camp program. Peder is remembered at SSSRA for his encouragement and happiness. During his adolescent years, Peder also loved music and playing drums. He was involved in the public school band and jazz band programs as well as his church and summer camp praiseband. Peder graduated from Homewood Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor, Illinois in 2004.

Peder - NorthparkIn the Fall of 2004 Peder attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. He expressed four reasons for wanting to attend Seton Hall: it was a Big East basketball school, it was close to New York City, it had a great business program (The Stillman School of Business), and he would be close to family in Connecticut. During his second year at Seton Hall, Peder decided he would spend his summer working on staff at Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center in Swanzey, NH (the other PHF donation recipient). His love for children, families, the staff, lifeguarding and sharing his faith was so evident there. Because of the friendships he made there and the impact Pilgrim Pines had on his life, Peder transferred to North Park University in Chicago to finish his degree. At NPU he quickly made friends, joined sports – intramural volleyball and basketball and the ultimate frisbee team – and continued spending his summers on staff at Pilgrim Pines (2006-2009). Peder graduated with Honors and dreams from North Park in May 2008.

Peder’s dreams involved returning to school for a teaching degree (possibly in special education) and being married and starting a family. Peder loved kids so much that we know he would have been an awesome Dad and Uncle.

In January of 2009, after abdominal pain led to several ER visits, Peder was diagnosed with PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis). Shortly after this diagnosis he was hospitalized for an entire month with Pancreatitis, caused by an invasive test. Peder and his family were devastated, but remained hopeful due to the support and care they received from his doctors. As evidence to his positive and joyful spirit (and love of ministry to children and families), Peder worked as summer director at Pilgrim Pines, even though he was still recovering from his bout with Pancreatitis.

That August, Peder and his family received hard news. Tests revealed spots on his liver. It was soon determined that these spots were in fact cancer and that, after chemotherapy and radiation, a liver transplant was needed as soon as possible, rather than later in life as they had hoped. Tests were performed to find a donor for Peder, and it was decided that his brother Eric would give half of his liver to replace Peder’s entire liver. In December 2009, while preparing for surgery, Peder, Eric and their family were told that the surgery was canceled because Peder’s chemotherapy had not worked. After more chemotherapy and a relatively new form of radiation, the cancer in Peder’s body did not respond positively . In mid-March 2010, Peder’s doctors confirmed that there were no treatments that could shrink or cure the cancer.

Monday night March 22, 2010 Peder, his father Paul, his brother Eric and his best friend Brian, sat together and watched Peder’s favorite movie, Newsies – this time holds a special place and memory for Paul, Eric, and Brian. Two days later, on March 24, surrounded by close family and friends (Paul and Hope, Eric and Erikka, his girlfriend Taryn, aunt, Holly, and best friend Brian), Peder died in his parents home after battling PSC and Cholangiocarcinoma (Cancer of the bile duct of the Liver).

Over the last year, our family has been shown an outpouring of support and encouragement. We have heard countless stories of the ways that Peder has touched so many lives. We are confident that because of who he was and the impact he had on this world, his dreams will live on.

Please pray for a cure for this devastating disease.

We hope you will help The Peder Hedberg Foundation keep Peder’s dreams alive by supporting Christian camping and work that values and uplifts children with disabilities. Thank you.