Fayetteville, N.C. — Alan Aycock was a business owner, volunteer and fundraiser, and the people who knew him say that his death at age 30 will leave a huge void in the Fayetteville community.
"He walked in a room and his personality just shined through," said Aycock's friend Daniel Horne. "He was the man."
Horne is a U.S. Army soldier who deployed twice to Afghanistan, but says his friend is the true hero.
"He's been through more than I have – a kidney transplant, double lung transplant," Horne said.
From the time he was born with cystic fibrosis, life was an uphill battle for Aycock. He was the longest surviving lung transplant patient from Duke University Hospital, receiving two new lungs at age 13.
But last week, he died from an aggressive form of liver cancer.
Friends say he never let illness slow him down.
"He put more in those 30 years than most people will do in a whole lifetime," said family friend Mary Rice.
"He gave an awful lot to a lot of people," her husband, Mark Rice, added.
Aycock, a self-taught computer programmer, owned a web design company in downtown Fayetteville. He worked with children at First Baptist Church and was active in fundraising for the WRAL-FM Radiothon, which helps support children at Duke University Hospital.
"He was a good guy for these kids to look up to," Horne said.
Through his work with the Radiothon, Aycock forged a friendship with longtime WRAL-FM morning show host Bill Jordan.
"Alan Aycock was a great friend for nearly 18 years, and his actions provided inspiration to others well beyond his 30 years on Earth," Jordan said in a statement Wednesday.
Mary Rice said Aycock's courage and faith made him larger than life, almost like a superhero.
"I walked in his bathroom, and there was a towel – it was a towel left over from when he was a kid – and it had Superman on it," she said. "I just laughed out loud and I said, 'That's Alan. He is Superman.'"
Aycock asked his parents to post a letter on Facebook after his death. In it, he thanked his doctors and caregivers at Duke, and marveled at the endless support of his family and friends.
"The power of God, family and friends gave me the will to fight for life even when the odds were against the conventional wisdom," he wrote. "Even with the current diagnosis, I always felt that same power, just in a different way. Cancer treatment is hard even for the healthiest of us."
Aycock's parents, Al and Sue Aycock, said in a statement Wednesday that they "were inspired by his life and his spirit for 30 miraculous years."