Zac's story

God moved our son Zachary “Zac” Walling Mago, 17, while he was taking an early afternoon nap on Thursday, July 5, 2018. He was one week shy of his 18th birthday. Zac suffered Sudden Cardiac Arrest in his sleep. Zac studied hard, trained hard, played hard and napped just as hard.

Zac was looking forward to his senior year of high school at John Glenn in Walkerton, IN where he was an honor student, a standout on the basketball team (#5) and being a part of the “Startup Moxie” entrepreneurs’ program. 

"Standout" describes Zac both on and off the court.  Zac was a goal setter and was highly motivated, worked hard, and gave everything 100%. He was a gifted student, a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Class Board and involved in the community.

Zac was a talented athlete in multiple sports, but he chose to focus on his passion, basketball, after his freshman year.  He was fiercely competitive and held himself to the highest standards. He not only showed respect for the game, but also the talents his teammates and competitors possessed. His teammates knew he was a standout, but he never let on that he was better than anyone. He was a confident and very humble young man. It is this respect that helped him build relationships throughout and guided his sportsmanship and it made him a better person and player. He loved every aspect of basketball, and he dedicated his free time to perfecting his game.  Zac practiced daily, not just during basketball season. 

He especially loved and enjoyed his personal cheering section of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. He cherished his family.  He emulated his dad, Bob, he doted on his mom, Teresa, he tormented and treasured his older sister, Jillian, and his younger brother, Matthew. He was a great help and sweet companion to his grandmother. He was a kindhearted son, brother, cousin, nephew and grandson.

Zac had many interests and hobbies above basketball.  He loved Notre Dame football, a good game of Euchre, hanging out with friends, shopping, Taco Bell, Starbucks and fishing.  His sense of humor was priceless. He had the ability to make others laugh and when he listened to you, he paid full attention as if you were the only thing that mattered. He would offer his sage wisdom, "You know what you should do....".  His smile and laugh were contagious. He lit up a room with just his presence. He could talk to anyone, and he often did. He made every stranger a friend and went out of his way to be kind and friendly to all he met. He had many, many friends. He was loved by all who knew him.

Zac was known for helping others and being the champion for those less fortunate. He connected and guided young children. He volunteered for youth basketball camps, but his favorite community event was the Shop with a Player Program. He would come home and talk about how his eyes were opened to the needs of the people in the small community in which we live. Through this support he impacted so many kids that they all looked up to him and wanted to become him one day. His coach said “My son would seek him out at team functions because he was always willing to take him under his wings and make him feel like he was part of the team.” 

The Zac Mago Foundation is a nonprofit organization, based in North Liberty, Indiana. It was founded by Zac’s family as a result of the outpouring of love and support they received from their small community and the communities surrounding them. 

Zac’s impact is still being felt today. His coach said that this was best displayed at Zac’s viewing when other players and coaches from many communities stood in line to pay their respects. One individual from a neighboring community sad “Zac must have been one heck of a kid, because the outpouring from other communities has been unbelievable.”

1st pic taken with Jillian at 3 days old, 2nd pic taken with Jillian 1  day before Zac moved.
1st pic taken with Jillian at 3 days old, 2nd pic taken with Jillian 1 day before Zac moved.