HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) – A Hot Springs mother is keeping her son’s legacy alive by gifting teddy bears to families who have lost children and ones in hospice care.
Her son, 19-year-old Caton Jones, died on November 9, 2016 in Arkansas Hospice.
“Caton was full of life. He was a freshman student at Arkansas State University. He had just pledged Kappa Sigma fraternity,” Caton’s mom Lisa said.
Caton was involved in a traumatic car accident on January 8, 2016, a week before he was to return for his second semester at Arkansas State University. He survived, but sustained life threatening injuries. While going through rehab, doctors discovered the unthinkable.
“He developed a bump on his jaw and we thought it was an infection. Through that diagnosis, they found that there were cancer cells,” Lisa said.
Doctors could not cure the cancer, so they recommended the family put Caton in hospice care.
"We were in Arkansas hospice in Hot Springs, in the in-patient unit about a week before he passed away,” Lisa said. "Our experience at Arkansas Hospice was wonderful, and the care was just incredible.”
While Caton was in hospice, his siblings wanted to find a way to capture his heartbeat to keep forever. A teddy bear now holds a remarkable meaning for the family.
"This is just not an ordinary bear. It has something inside that's very special. [Inside] is actually Caton's heartbeat,” Lisa said.
The teddy bear inspired Lisa to do the same for other families who have children in Arkansas hospice and to start Caton’s Cubs. Caton’s Cubs will allow families to have their own child’s heartbeat.
“Really all you want when you lose a family member is to keep their memory alive, and so heartbeat is at the very core of who a person is,” Lisa said.
Family members can record their loved one’s heart beat on a heart shaped monitor that is then placed inside the teddy bear. When squeezed, their heart beat plays for 30 seconds.
"When I listen to it, I remember Caton and how vibrant he was. And how that heartbeat represents everything that he was,” Lisa said.
Not only does Caton's heartbeat now live on forever, his legacy is now bringing comfort to families.
"He would love to know that these heartbeat beats have gone on to make other people happy,” Lisa said. "That really makes me happy to know it's going to benefit a lot of people and make a lot of people happy because it's a really sad time when you lose a family member or child."
Arkansas Hospice care team members will capture and upload the heartbeat sounds to the bears, then provide them to families of the patients. Funds are being raised by Arkansas Hospice Foundation for the purchase of Doppler recording devices, which are needed to record the sound of a patient’s heartbeat for Caton’s Cubs. To donate, click here.