• From left to right: Cristina, Victoria, Winston, and Matthew Might sit on the newly installed Buddy Bench at Mountain Brook Elementary School. The bench honors former student Bertrand "Buddy" Might, who passed away in October 2020.

    April 1, 2021 — Mountain Brook Elementary lost a beloved member of its school community this past fall. 

    Bertrand “Buddy” Might was only 12 years old when he passed away due to complications from NGLY1 deficiency. He was the first person ever diagnosed with the ultra-rare genetic disorder.

    Although Buddy no longer traverses MBE’s hallways, his legacy of love, kindness, and inclusion endure. On Monday, March 29, the school dedicated a bench in his honor. 

    Installed next to the playground, the red Buddy Bench is intended to be a place where students can sit if they need a friend or an invitation to come and play. As a sign behind the bench denotes, Buddy was a friend to all. 

    “Lancers lead from the heart is our touchstone, and Bertrand was such a special kid and showed leadership in kindness and compassion to others,” MBE Assistant Principal Brannon Aaron said. “We couldn’t think of a better way to represent his life as well as who we are at Mountain Brook Elementary.”

    Buddy and his siblings, Victoria and Winston, began attending MBE in 2017. By then, he had long been fighting his lifelong battle with NGLY1 deficiency. Buddy relied on a wheelchair to get around and an eye gaze-enabled speech-generating device to talk with others. 

    While his neurodegenerative disorder limited his ability to move and communicate, it did not impact his unbreakable spirit. 

    “Anybody who was ever in his presence was really touched by his serenity,” said his father, Dr. Matthew Might. “He had a good sense of humor, was calm and always kind.” 

    That Buddy survived as long as he did testified to his resilience. Doctors initially thought he would live only two to three years.

    “The fact that he made it until almost 13 years old was a blessing and something that we did not take for granted,” said Buddy’s mother, Cristina Might. “Every single day he taught us how to smile, how to look on the bright side of things, and how to be the best version of ourselves. If he could do it under those circumstances, then we had no excuse.”

    The MBE PTO helped the school purchase Buddy's bench, which was installed before spring break in mid-March. Victoria, a fourth-grader, and Winston, a first-grader, helped pick out their brother's bench with MBE Principal Ashley McCombs and Assistant Principal Brannon Aaron. 

    “I’m so grateful for the community, for the kids, for the administrators, for everybody who made this possible,” Cristina Might said, “but most of all for the love and the care and support that they showed him during his life, too.”

    To learn more about Buddy, including the recent endowment created in his honor at UAB, visit bertrand.might.net.