Family using son’s death to help children with autism

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A family in Virginia is finding strength in their community. Tuesday night, Chesapeake’s Cameron Thomas went missing. Hundreds gathered to find the autistic 3-year-old. Wednesday morning, we learned he drown.

Since then countless people have stepped in to help his grieving family.

“Everybody wants to know what they can do to help,” said Chesapeake’s Patty Lawrence. Lawrence owns a pharmacy in Chesapeake. “I think that all of us that have children know that it could happen to anyone.”

Cameron wandered away from home and drowned in a nearby marsh. Lawrence Pharmacy is collecting donations and messages to send to Cameron’s parents.

“It’s been the worst,” said Cameron’s aunt Tiffany Thomas. “It still just feels like a nightmare that we just can’t wake up from.”

Cameron’s family says they are overwhelmed by the support. The GoFundMe page set up for them has more than $15,000 in it. Funeral costs have been paid for and Cameron’s mom has big plans for the extra money.

“Rachel has decided that she wants to donate the remainder of it to the Autism Society of Tidewater and they will get bracelets for autistic children,” Thomas added.

Bracelets that have a GPS in them so children can be tracked if needed. Hampton’s Marjean Allen knows how important they are.  She has one for her granddaughter Amber.

“Everybody that wears it has a specific radio frequency and they would just hone in on her radio frequency and find her,” Allen said.

Fortunately Allen hasn’t had to use it yet and she hopes she never will.

“I feel like if more people knew about it Camerons wouldn’t happen as often,” Allen added.

In this case, Cameron’s family is trying to make something positive out of a tragedy.

“We hope that the families of these children do take part in this and do get this bracelet,” Thomas added. “We wish to God we would have gotten one now.”

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