Jayden Morrison remembered on two-year anniversary of child’s di - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Jayden Morrison remembered on two-year anniversary of child’s disappearance, death

Jayden Morrison died during the 2014 Christmas holiday. (Source: WMBF News) Jayden Morrison died during the 2014 Christmas holiday. (Source: WMBF News)
DeAnna Douglas-Jackson founded the Jayden Morrison Project in Horry County. (Source: WMBF News) DeAnna Douglas-Jackson founded the Jayden Morrison Project in Horry County. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For the family of a boy with autism, the holidays will forever be a reminder of their loss.

But two years after Jayden Morrison's death, his memory lives on by offering protection to other children with autism.

The 4-year-old went missing in Little River on Christmas Eve in 2014. His body was found in a pond three days later.

Morrison's story inspired a complete stranger, Deanna Douglas- Jackson, to create the Jayden Morrison Project to raise autism awareness.

"It hit real close to home, with me and my husband," she said. "My son’s name is Jayden also. He was also four at the time, and he’s autistic, and he’s a wanderer."  

Douglas-Jackson didn't get to meet Jayden, but said his story helped her take new measures to protect her own son.

"We just want his memory to be kept alive and for people to know more about autism and to really learn about autism," she said.

Jayden’s mother said she left the family home Christmas Eve to run to the store. The 4-year-old stayed behind with his grandmother. At one point, police believe Jayden wandered down into the pond and drowned.

The child's disappearance sparked a major search and rescue effort involving officers from agencies across the Grand Strand, and hundreds of volunteers who were shuttled into the neighborhood to help find Jayden. 

"The emotion with this the anniversary coming up, it's really hard because it brings back all those memories of what happened to him and not knowing where he was," Douglas-Jackson said through tears. "And my heart just raced, because I know what that mother was going through. She couldn't find her child and then they found him. I just couldn't imagine."

When Jayden passed, the fellow mother asked the family what she could do to honor the 4-year-old. Douglas-Jackson said her family immediately founded the Jayden Morrison Project. 

One of the initiatives centers around Project Lifesaver bracelets, which alert families if their child wanders off. To help make them available to families for free, Douglas-Jackson is a partner with SOS Healthcare. 

"Anybody that has a problem with wandering or roaming can wear this bracelet and it's got a transmitter, and you have a little keychain thing that you can test to make sure the battery is still working," she said.

This mother says she'll keep working in her community to raise awareness about autism to help remember the life of the a little boy gone too soon.

For the past two years during the holiday season, the Jayden Morrison Project has hosted bake sales to raise funds for families of special needs children.

This year, they helped a family in Horry County that suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Matthew. Douglas-Jackson says she plans to do it again in 2017. 

She added that she is working to make the Jayden Morrison Project a non-profit organization and is holding a benefit concert in the spring to raise money for their cause.

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