North Port couple donates thousands of toys to hospital in honor of son

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A North Port couple who tragically lost their 5-year-old son earlier in August set out to honor his memory Thursday by donating thousands of toy cars to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

  • Sawyer Gordon, 5, hit by a truck while on his bicycle on August 9
  • Sawyer was previously a patient at Johns Hopkins All Children’s
  • Parents wished to give back in a way that Sawyer would have loved

For Summer and Reppard Gordon, the trip to unload the multitude of toy cars for the young patients at the hospital was an emotional one.

The last time they were there, they left without their youngest son. Five-year-old Sawyer Gordon was killed on August 9 when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle.

At the time, the Gordons said it was their faith that was keeping them going.

"What’s getting us through is that God has a plan, and we trust him, and I know I will see our son again," Summer said.

RELATED: Family remembers 5-year-old North Port boy hit, killed by car

Sawyer, a special needs student at Pinnacle Academy in Bradenton, loved to play with Matchbox Cars.

Photo: Summer and Reppard Gordon

"He loved Matchbox Cars so much, even when I came home from the hospital after he passed away, I laid in his bed and found three Matchbox cars hidden under his pillow," said Summer.

Friends and loved ones were encouraged to bring Sawyer’s favorite toy to his celebration of life on August 12.

"We walked into church service, celebration of life and they had all these displayed out,” said Reppard. “Really an emotional time where all these people who had come, basically brought cars with them.”

Cars like the ones that brought smiles to Sawyer’s face while he went to appointments at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.

"Just a month ago, we were here for a test and it was a little traumatic for him," said Summer. "They gave him this awesome little motorcycle and for weeks he would say, ‘I need my motorcycle, motorcycle.’"

The Gordons wanted to bring those smiles to other children, while honoring their son’s memory.

"I just thought giving back and bringing them here was such a perfect fit so that these kiddos that are going through health struggles and challenges and tests, they can just be kids for a few minutes and take their mind off whatever the reason that they’re here is," said Summer.

Kristin Maier, director of the Child Life Department at the hospital, received the donation and says Sawyer’s memory will live on through each one of these cars.

"This was a tragic situation and this family had so much unselfishness that they thought about giving back to other children and taking care of other children and helping their son’s life and legacy live on through a gift to the children, who are still going through different kinds of treatment and care," said Maier.

The toys will be distributed throughout the hospital for patients to enjoy.

"I hope that they bring them joy, I hope that they can bring them a smile," said Summer.

Bay News 9 – news

August 25, 2016 |

Band performing at Red Hot and Boom honor fallen lead singer

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This year’s Red, Hot and Boom held special significance for one of the many bands and musical acts slated to perform. Frequency took the stage Sunday and dedicated their performance to their fallen lead singer, who was among those who lost their lives in the Pulse shooting.

  • Shane Tomlinson was lead vocalist, co-founder of The Frequency Band
  • The last time the band saw Tomlinson was at a performance on June 11
  • Red Hot and Boom largest show the band has ever booked

Performing at the Red Hot and Boom makes this the biggest show Frequency has ever booked. It’s everything their late lead singer and co-founder, Shane Tomlinson, would have wanted.
“He loved the band and he always wanted us to look our best and he always wanted us to give an amazing show," Ginelle Morales, the lead female vocalist for Frequency, said. "And the fact that we’re in this show – we keep saying he would’ve been so excited to do something like this on this grand scale.”

An estimated 150,000 people came out for Red Hot and Boom in Altamonte Springs on Sunday. (ph: Amanda McKenzie, staff)
The last time Morales and the rest of Frequency’s members saw Tomlinson was at one of their shows — on Saturday, June 11th.
“I remember saying "bye" to him that night – it’s like, ‘bye boo, talk to you later,’" Morales said. "Gave him a kiss on the cheek and walked away.”
Tomlinson decided to go out later that night with friends to Pulse nightclub. The next morning, his band mates heard about the mass shooting.
“We broke down and were just looking for him, searching for him, contacting the hospitals,” Morales said. "We found out the following day. We had to wait a long time."
Frequency continues to pull together to give performances in his memory. At Red Hot and Boom, their set was dedicated to Tomlinson.
“He was really proud of what he did," Morales said. "Proud of his band and he always wanted to do the very best for it everyday.”

As the music played, people were on their feet dancing and singing along. Some of Tomlinson’s friends celebrated in the crowd.
“I could feel the presence of Shane in here," Catt Pisano said. "I know he was dancing right there with us.”

Bay News 9 – local-news

July 3, 2016 |
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