KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A big smile is one of the few ways 7-year-old Damario Smith could communicate. “He had the biggest smile ever,” said his mother, Irene Roades, who dedicated her life to taking care of him.
Roades told FOX4 that weeks after she gave birth to her twin boys, Damario and Damariae, in 2016, she woke up to the latter’s cries. When she went into their room, she said Damariae was fine, but that’s when she noticed Damario was not. She described him as “seizing” with “blood coming out of his nose” and that he “couldn’t breathe.”
She rushed him to a hospital where doctors resuscitated him, Roades saying it was due to RSV and pneumonia.
“Ever since then he lost a lot of oxygen to his brain, so he couldn’t do a lot of things that normal kids could do like walking and talking,” she said.
Damario, she said, eventually required a feeding tube and help from different nursing assistants.
“He was happy no matter what was going on,” added Leola Fikes, Damario’s grandmother and Roades’ mother. “His face lights up and his mouth opens up so wide, I can see all of his teeth, and he laughs and giggles so hard and he kicks his legs in his bed.”
The family said Damario loved music and would dance while seated or in bed, doing his best to move his legs.
“He had cerebral palsy,” his mother said. “He had child mental delay. He had seizures. It’s a whole list I can’t even name off everything it was so much.”
Despite that, they said he attended Ingels Elementary for two hours a week to experience the normal life of a first grader. In fact, just recently the school voted him “Best Smile.”
Roades said Damario’s last hospital visit happened two weeks ago for RSV and pneumonia. She explained that doctors felt he was okay to go home, but when he did, she said it got worse. Damario later passed away at home on Sunday, May 21.
“It doesn’t feel real. I still sit in his room every day. Every day. His brother lays in his bed because he misses him,” she said.
Now comes his funeral, something Roades said she’s struggling to afford since her main job was taking care of him. Because of the work that entailed, she said it was hard keeping a steady paying job.
Not only that, but the family said Damario did not have life insurance since he was considered high-risk with pre-existing conditions.
“I just want to make sure his funeral is as beautiful as it can be,” added Fikes.
They’ve started a GoFundMe to pay for his funeral at Palestine Missionary Baptist Church of Jesus Christ on June 8.