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A stranger to no one, friend to many and an inspiration to all, Aaron Cortese touched lives of people throughout the nation — but none more than those who knew him best. Cortese died at the age of 23 on Feb. 16. Aaron was born in May 1997, and at just 15 months old was diagnosed with Chiari malformation of the spine. The diagnosis began a lifelong battle that never once hindered Aarons’s approach to life. “Some things that people would consider impossible for somebody in his physical condition, he made possible,” Cortese’s sister Cassie Moores said. In his 23 years of life, Cortese underwent 53 surgeries, many of which came after his body had rejected shunts that were supposed to relieve pressure on his spinal cord. Then, in 2014 Aaron became paralyzed from the waist down because of complications from a severely curved spine. Despite the cards life dealt Aaron, he found ways to do anything he wanted to with the help of his parents, Billie Jean and David, sister Cassie, and brother-in-law Rory. “He wanted to go swimming last summer,” Rory Moores said. “Our cousins have a swimming pool over on the South Side, so we got everything ready and took him swimming. We had a pool float that he would sit in and he sat out there until the rest of us were shivering, and he didn’t care. “We would ask him, ‘Are you ready to get out Aaron?’” Billie Jean added. “He would say, ‘Nope.’ […]