Kaiden Ott, affectionately known in the Tullahoma, Tennessee, community as
“the Heart Hero,” came into our lives on May 15, 2018. Our hearts are always
heavy when we bring young children like Kaiden onto our service, but as with
all our patients, we feel so honored and privileged to be able to walk this path
with them and their families.
In the few months we spent with Kaiden, 4, and his family we shared many
great memories that we will keep with us forever.
Soon after his admission, our hospice’s social worker Susan Davis learned the
family did not have a family photo. Luckily for us one of our volunteers, Candy
Couch, is a photographer by trade and hosted a photo shoot for the family.
With support from various members of his care team, Kaiden was given a mini motorcycle to ride in a communitywide “Ride for Kaiden.”
June 2 was declared “Kaiden Ott Day” in Tullahoma. During the “Ride for Kaiden,” the Tullahoma Fire Department presented the honorary fireman with his very own personalized fire helmet and brought a truckload of superheroes to visit him. We were so grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Kaiden and his family on that special day.
June 25 was a difficult day — it was the day Kaiden passed. A few days later we celebrated this precious boy’s life surrounded by all of those who had supported him throughout his journey, including his firefighter, police and superhero friends. The Tullahoma firefighters served as pallbearers and carried his little casket out to a vintage firetruck, and little did we realize what was to come.
During the funeral processional — a rainy three-mile trip from the funeral home to the cemetery — there was a police officer stopping traffic at every light with their hand over their heart. We passed two fire stations each with firefighters standing outside and hands over their hearts and one with its firetruck out, ladder fully extended with an American flag waving.
Along the way there were even locals standing outside of their businesses paying their respects. It was truly one of the most reverent funeral processionals I’ve ever been part of.
Life is so fragile, precious, challenging and so very beautiful, and what carries me, this family and so many others through all of this is our faith and the promise that we will see each other again and it will be glorious.
What a beautiful thing to witness the support not only from Kaiden’s amazing family, but from our friends, community and Compassus family.
By Julia Logan-Mayes
Julia is volunteer coordinator for Compassus in Tullahoma, Tennessee.