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Dom and Friends, Forever.

A tribute to the extraordinary, Dominic James Strain. A friend, teammate, son, brother, and light in all of our lives.

Photo provided by: Best Buddies Westfield Chapter.

Regan Winbun

Business Manager and Writer

November 16, 2021

Funny, kind, caring, friendly, generous, forgiving, loving, strong-willed, accepting, protective, special, determined, hilarious, compassionate, happy, fun, smart, creative, extraordinary, kind-hearted, motivated, selfless, understanding, witty, bright, inclusive, hardworking, brave, courageous, considerate, talented, outgoing, honest, passionate, polite, joyful, athletic, energetic, optimistic, rockstar, talkative.

Those are just a few of the words students from around the school used to describe Dominic Strain. If you had the pleasure to know Dominic as I had, you would know that each and every one of those words is just a fraction of all the wonderful things he was.

Like many others, I met Dominic in my middle school years, and the impact he had on me was like a domino effect. It was his kindness and ability to make me feel welcomed and appreciated that inspired me to join Best Buddies. That decision would be the most life-changing choice I had ever made, and I will forever have Dominic to thank for that.

Dominic and his Best Buddy, Joe Barbera, dressed up for the homecoming parade.

Photo provided by: Joe Barbera

“He would always remember your face, name, and go in for a fist bump,” former President of Best Buddies, Madison Walker said. “He knew how to keep a conversation going, and could talk about anything and everything. Dominic was easily the most forgiving, compassionate, and outgoing person I have ever met, it’s just who he was.”

Throughout middle school and high school, Dom was involved in Best Buddies, where he was paired one-on-one with another student at the high school. Senior Joe Barbera and Dominic have been a buddy pair for a few years now, constantly making memories at events, while hanging out, and in day-to-day life.

“He was such a good guy, a great friend, and the best buddy I could have ever wished for,” Barbera said.

Ainsley Stayley and Dominic getting ready to go to one of the many school dances he attended with a Best Buddies group.

Photo provided by: Ainsley Stayley

Dominic had a passion for music, and specifically guitars. Throughout the year, he had been organizing a group of friends for a band, yet it felt like the only piece he was missing was a band name.

“At the [Best Buddies] match party this year, he gave me a folded up post-it note and pointed at Sam Smith, one of the other officers, and he said ‘Give it to Sam.’ So I did and it said, ‘Dom and Friends’ on it which was the band name he had chosen,” Barbera said.

A lot of the band members were doubting their musical abilities, but Dominic was constantly reassuring them and making them embrace the musical abilities they had.

Vice President of Best Buddies Jordyn Church and Dominic, ready to head to the dance!

Photo provided by: Jordyn Church.

“Homecoming this year, we listened to the Party Rock Anthem and he told me I was going to be the lead singer of his band,” Best Buddies Vice President Jordyn Church said.

There is not a name more fitted for Dominic’s band than Dom and Friends. That is who Dom was, a friend to all. He did not know a stranger, no matter who you were, he always worked to make sure you felt welcomed and accepted.

“He did not judge anyone or anything. He truly wanted to be kind and be there for others,” Best Buddies President Quinn Sever said.

Dominic always made sure that his friends knew that he cared and always had his friends back. He was constantly checking up on his friends through text, conversations at school, or small gestures that made you know he was thinking of you.

Dominic and Joe Barbera posing with a WWE belt, one of Dom’s favorite things.

Photo provided by: Joe Barbera.

“He was always looking out for others, you could always rely on him to protect and be there for you,” Sever said.

Dom used his protective nature to watch out for his friends, “One of my guy friends walked up to me [at homecoming] and Dominic immediately stood between us and went ‘she’s good’ and ‘no need’ and made sure he wasn’t ‘flirting with me,’” Sever said.

Dominic’s humor was one of the many things that everyone loved, he always was finding something to laugh about and to brighten up his days.

Dominic and his best friends Quinn and Benny!

Photo provided by: Quinn Sever.

Barbera described one of his favorite stories with Dom when the two were driving and the car in front of them hit a goose. Dominic was hysterically laughing, and could not stop even if he tried. Dom would frequently share this story with others. “He immediately follows the story with him saying, ‘I have a morbid sense of humor one could say,’” Barbera said.

Anyone who was around Dominic would know just how hard-working and determined he actually was. Dom was always putting in the work to be the best possible version of himself that he could be.

Former Best Buddies President, Madison Walker and Dominic during unified track.

Photo provided by: Madison Walker

“My favorite thing about Dom is his determination or his sense of humor,” Barbera said. “He would go for a run in his neighborhood every morning before school to keep himself in shape for track season, and always finished his races 100%.”

Dominic’s brother, Jay Strain said how much he loved, “Seeing him every day rain, sleet, or shine, run his butt off outside working to get better.”

It was clear that Dom’s hard work paid off, as he had an incredibly successful unified track season, even in the 400-meter race that he initially hated, as everyone around him could attest to.

Jay described Dom’s greatest traits as, “His passion, determination, honesty, and loyalty.” Dominic endured a lot throughout his life, “In just 18 years, he survived 4 brain surgeries, the first one being at just 17 months old.”

Dominic showed us that strength is not just physical, but it is an internal aspect. Dominic was a fighter, but not in the WWE way. He fought to be the man he was, he fought to survive, and he fought to improve each and every day.

His brother stated, “Dom was someone you could always tell anything to and he would always give it to you straight, no sugar coating it.”

Dominic attending Homecoming dance 2021 with the Best Buddies dance group!

Photo provided by: Jordyn Church

You never had to worry about honesty with Dom, he would always tell you what you needed to hear. Even if it was the hard truth, he always had a way of giving it to you in a way that made it easy to hear.

“He impacted strangers at unified meets, people in the community, old and new teachers. Everyone that ever came in contact with Dominic knows that he was a people person,” Walker said.

Dominic’s character and friendship will continue to live through each and every one of the many lives he touched. At his vigil, many people shared stories of their friendship with Dom, most of which stemmed from years ago.

“I don’t think he actually realized how impactful some of those hugs, smiles, or fist bumps really were,” Church said.

Dominic and his friends at the Best Buddies Halloween party.

Photo provided by: Best Buddies Westfield chapter

October 29, 2021, would have been Dominic’s 19th birthday, and many students went alongside his family to release balloons with notes to Dominic, to come together and celebrate a life that touched everyone.

Dominic James Strain was a loyal, caring, determined, and honest friend, brother, and son. He loved guitar, WWE, but he loved the people in his life more. His ability to make everyone around him feel comfortable and to always show how much he cared was something everyone should take after. Every person he encountered is better because of him. He lived his life with passion and kindness, and his life will forever be one well-lived.

Dominic with the Best Buddies poster him and Jordyn Church hung up throughout the school, promoting inclusion.

Photo provided by: Jordyn Church

Losing someone you love is hard, especially when it’s a one-in-a-million type of person. I have never met anyone quite like Dominic Strain, and I don’t think I ever will again.

“I love him and will miss him very much, he meant a lot to me,” Barbera said.

This story is in the loving memory of Dominic James Strain.

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