Leland Shoemake was only six years old when he suddenly started complaining of headaches. His parents, Amber and Tim Shoemake, knew something was not right, so they rushed him to the hospital.
There the doctors diagnosed Leland with a bacterial infection called Balamuthia Mandrillaris, a free-living amoeba which can cause a severe disease of the brain and spinal cord. Doctors immediately started treating Leland at the hospital.
The family created a Facebook page to keep people updated. Amber wrote, “He’s being kept sedated but his pressures keep spiking. They did a CT and it shows swelling in the brain and decreased overall quality of his brain. Also it looked like the infection has gotten worse. I’m broken.” Sadly, Leland never got better and passed away a short time later.
Amber wrote. “Reality still hasn’t set in that he’s not here with us. We miss him terribly. Today we go to pick out his headstone. I’m not ready for this either. I’m not sure how I’m going to go on without him. How do you not only say goodbye to a child but your best friend.”
But that was not the end of Leland. His heartbroken parents went home from the hospital and discovered something utterly miraculous from Leland. They found a spiral-bound notebook sitting on the table in the living room. When Amber saw what was written on it, she broke down in tears.
Leland - maybe sensing he would not return with his parents - wrote this: “Still with you - thank you mom and dad - love mom and dad - it’s a good day.”
“We were in shock, and broke down as soon as we saw it,” Amber said. “He was amazing in life and still is after his passing. He touched everyone he met and we are amazed at how many lives he’s touched since he left us.”
“My hope is to spread awareness and help spread Leland’s love throughout,” she said. “Everything I do will be in his honor. Please join Leland’s pay it forward movement and do a good deed for someone in honor of him. Tell them Leland’s story and ask them to pay it forward in his name and continue to tell everyone about him.”
Amber started a foundation in honor of Leland. All the money raised will go to towards helping underprivileged kids at Christmas, which was Leland’s favorite holiday.