Simon Lindsey may have been only 4 years old when he died, but he has touched many lives, many of whom came to the Joplin Sports Complex on Sunday night to say goodbye and support his parents, Mandi and David Lindsey; his siblings, Eden, 7, and Owen, 2; and the rest of his family.
Many of those in attendance at the ceremony had taken part in a community parade held outside Simon’s home late last month.
Simon fell unconscious and died shortly after the parade, where he walked and played and laughed, rode a horse and accepted a helmet, making him an honorary firefighter.
“We’re kind of a small town people with a small, tight-knit group of friends, that when something like this happens, we’re usually not the people who get this kind of turnout, but the support we’ve gotten is more than we could have ever expected” David Lindsey said Sunday night. “It means a lot to us that Simon specifically had an impact on everyone.”
The service included a parade with dozens of motorcycles and other vehicles pouring into the parking lot at Will Norton Miracle Field at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Miranda Bennett, Simon’s aunt and Mandi Lindsey’s sister, who hosted the August 26 parade, was on hand Sunday night to arrange the details ahead of the celebration of Simon’s life.
Bennett had two words to describe her reaction to the events of the Sunday celebration: “Incredible and speechless. I keep repeating them because they are true. It was incredible that our community was such that they even cared about a little boy they didn’t even know. and the support they showed beyond just driving by, the gifts they brought and the memories they made with him just made it 10 times sweeter. It definitely showed me that we’re all fighting internally against something people don’t know about, and it’s touched a lot of people.”
Heather Boyd, a member of the Warrior Watch Riders who took a picture with Simon during the parade, was in attendance for Sunday’s celebration.
“When I met him and had my picture taken with him, it made me think about my kids,” Boyd said. “Thursday night we found out he had passed away, and it changed my view of how I see my kids. I see my kids like it’s their last day, and he really touched me a lot. The best thing I could do was patch memory for him and his family. He loved dinosaurs, so that’s why we have the dinosaur patch to match.”
Boyd and eight other members of the Warrior Watch Riders handed David and Mandi Lindsey those patches and other gifts in memory of Simon.
Brad Eichelberger, a driver on a Joplin fire truck during the parade, also came on Sunday. He said the news of Simon’s death hit him hard.
“It’s hard to describe. His death was very sudden,” Eichelberger said on Sunday. “It was a privilege to be able to share something with him and give him a beautiful happy memory and a happy happy time before everything happened. I feel like we all made a special bond that day. Simon has certainly influenced a lot of lives, changed a lot of people, so it’s important to me personally to pay my respects to someone like that.”
Miranda Bennett said recent events showed her that the community cares for children and she hoped it would continue to do so.
“Simon wasn’t the only kid fighting something, and if everyone shows up here for the next kid fighting something, who would really be old enough to remember, wow,” she said. “I believe in good karma, and those things move forward and go to the next person.”
Miranda and Paul Garrison of Carl Junction and their three children – Paul Jr., 12; Eli, 7; and Gabe, 4 – were among the first to arrive at the service Sunday night. On the windows of their vehicle are facts about childhood cancer, including the small amount that is being funded for research into childhood cancer treatments from the federal government.
Hashtags representing more than 100 children from the area are featured on the back and passenger side.
“Each hashtag is a different kid their parents gave me their name,” said Miranda Garrison. “And they’re either survivors, warriors or angels, and I’m just honoring their name and their hashtag on the car.”
Miranda and Paul Garrison said their youngest, Gabe, is battling a rare form of leukemia. Gabe was ill for four months before being diagnosed about two years ago. Miranda Garrison said that childhood cancer research needs more support and that she is trying to raise awareness.
“Gabe has mixed acute leukemia phenotype,” she said. “As long as he doesn’t relapse, it’s fine. If he relapses, the options get shorter and shorter, but right now he’s in remission and doing pretty well, so we’re pretty lucky.”
She added: “It is very difficult to have a child with cancer. It’s hard in ways you don’t think are hard. That’s why I think it’s important for us to be here to support Simon and his family. Even if we didn’t know him very well, his mother or his family, we have to show them that we are there for them. Every child can use as much support as they can get.”