Millenial Mind Pt. V: Two 19-year-olds show their generation can be more selfless than selfies

CINCINNATI - Anyone who researches the generation born after 1980 will find a disproportionate number of articles on two topics: Those accusing millennials of possessing a host of less than desirable characteristics, and those written by millennials themselves, defending their generation from harsh criticism.

This five-part series takes a closer look at local millennials, who are defining their generation and setting a precedent for others to follow. MORE: Who are the millennials?

At the age of six, William (Will) Cox II and Jonathan Boyle became inseparable. Dr. Randy Cox, Will’s father, said he often felt he had two sons because they were always together. He said shortly thereafter, Justin Goodall joined the crew.

“In the early years they were always on the same basketball team because they didn’t want to be separated from each other and that probably continued up until high school,” Cox said. “So they’ve all been playmates and best of friends since first grade.”

At the end of his junior year at Princeton High School, Cox was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma Brain Tumor (DIPG), more commonly known as pediatric brain cancer. Two months after graduation in July 2013, he died at the age of 18. Goodall said the disease seemed to take hold suddenly.

“He was doing fine and I was thinking, he’s going to get better,” Goodall said. “I do social media at work and I was on my Instagram and I saw William Cox RIP. I’d left my phone in my car, so when I got to my car, I had all these texts. I just broke down and cried.”

The next morning, Boyle, Goodall and another childhood friend Marc Ferguson decided to start the #iWill Awareness Foundation in Cox’s honor.

Become a WCPO Insider to read more about how the friends, now in college, are defying the "self-absorbed" stereotype of the millennial generation.

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