MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A mother to a young boy with Autism founded a project to honor the life of Jayden Morrison, the little boy who disappeared Christmas Eve last year. The four-year-old boy's body was found in a pond two days later. Jayden's family was visiting Little River from New York for the holidays.
Deanna Jackson and her husband created the Jayden Morrison Project. They also have a son named Jayden, who also has Autism. Their son was also four years old at the same time Jayden Morrison died. And the family also has a retention pond behind their home, like the one Jayden Morrison accidentally drowned in.
Jackson says everything was too eerily similar, and hit close to home. She met with Jayden Morrison's mother, Tabitha. And she expressed that they wanted to do something for the Morrison family to keep Jayden's memory alive.
"Jayden had a twin, Jordan. And a little sister. It was very heart-breaking to sit there and know that he'll never see his brother again. But on a lighter note and a positive note, we got to connect. And Jayden's memory will stay alive," said Jackson.
Deanna admits that her son Jayden did not have a tracking bracelet, even though his therapist suggested they get a Project Lifesaver one for him. But Deanna says after what happened to Jayden Morrison, who was not wearing a bracelet, she immediately got one for her son.
"I feel a lot safer because my son wears one," said Jackson. "It gives you a little bit of ease and comfort. Because with these children and people with traumatic brain injuries, the communication is sometimes not there."
So now the Jayden Morrison Project raises money to make tracking bracelets available for free to kids and adults who have disabilities and are at risk of wandering off and getting lost. The first fundraiser they did was in April. They raised more than $3,000. And all the money goes towards the local group Project Lifesaver to purchase and maintain these tracking bracelets.
"When anybody is lost, I think that gives you an extra flutter in your stomach," said Monique Clements, the Project Lifesaver coordinator. "But a child or somebody with dementia or Down Syndrome, you know, it's just a little more alarming when that happens."
These bracelets are available to children or adults with Autism, Down Syndrome, dementia, Alzheimer's, or a traumatic brain injury. The bracelet emits a signal so that if these people wander off or get lost, that signal goes straight to 911 operators. That way rescue crews can find them right away. Right now, at least 54 people in Horry County are wearing them.
"If you couldn't speak or communicate and you were lost and you had no way to find somebody, you couldn't reach out to somebody," said Clements. "That's basically what this is. It's the lifeline between a person being lost in that position to the officers or first responders looking for them."
Statistics show that the chances of finding a person unharmed or alive drops to 50 percent after 24 hours. For those using this bracelet, there is a 100 percent success rate of locating someone. And with these bracelets, search times have been reduced from hours to an average of less than 30 minutes.
"You have to be two steps ahead," said Jackson. "And it's overwhelming and frustrating, but it's Autism. And it needs to be embraced and not looked down upon."
Each bracelet costs $350. But Project Lifesaver provides and maintains them for free to every at-risk child and adult in Horry County. The group just renewed its partnership with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. So two free bracelets are available to visitors.
The annual Guns and Hoses softball tournament raised more than $3,000 for Project Lifesaver. In September, firefighters and police officers for Horry County and Myrtle Beach played the tournament to raise the money. First responders get special training on how to appropriately approach children and adults with disabilities.
If any business would like to sponsor a bracelet or coordinate a fundraiser, contact Monique Clement at 849-449-0554.