There’s nothing more tragic than losing a child. Betsy Moore knows.
She lost her son Dylan, nearly 8 years old, after a long battle with Fanconi Anemia (FA).
FA, a rare genetic blood disorder, prevents one’s bone marrow from making enough new blood cells for the body to work normally.
“He was diagnosed just after his third birthday,” Betsy said.
Betsy, an accountant for Halifax Academy, said Dylan’s illness impacted every part of life for her, husband Clyde “Peanut,” son Cody, 14, and daughter Skylar, 12.
As Dylan’s disease progressed,it was decided he needed a bone marrow transplant. Betsy and Clyde stayed with Dylan in Minnesota, where he received his transplant in Fairview Children’s Hospital at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
“It was by far the most challenging time of our lives,” she said. “Cody and Skyler had to adjust to their family being 1,800 miles from home for almost a year.”
Betsy said the family compensated with a webcam and tried to have family time every night. They would talk and play games on the computer.
“We were very fortunate that we had family and friends that took care of them,” Betsy said. “It would have been too dangerous for Dylan to have them with us, but we thought it would be a temporary thing. ‘One hundred days,’ we kept saying. ‘We can do this for 100 days.’ Yet on day 100, Dylan was fighting for his life in the intensive care unit.”
Betsy said the outpouring of love and generosity toward her family by the community during and after Dylan’s fight ended was overwhelming. Fundraisers were held, people prayed, everyone rallied around him.
The operation was designed to save Dylan’s life, but complications ripped a hole in the fabric, and on July 26, 2009, Dylan was gone.
“The Roanoke Valley adopted Dylan as the ‘Roanoke Valley Cowboy,’” she said. “There were some days that we didn’t know how we would make it through … but with support from our friends and family, we found the strength to go on … Even though the pain is hard to bear, we wouldn’t trade a moment that we spent with Dylan.”
Betsy said she feels like Cody and Skyler had to grow up a lot sooner then they should have.
“Most children don’t ever have to experience being separated from their parents for such a long period of time,” she said. “Most children don’t have to deal with the loss of a brother. I am very proud of both Cody and Skyler, and how they have both ‘cowboyed up’ to deal with this loss.”
She said the term “cowboy up” was a catch phrase with Dylan, it means you face whatever life throws at you and make the best of it.
“I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t get angry sometimes,” Betsy said. “There are days that are almost unbearable.”
She said her son made a lasting impact on her life, so she tries to follow his lead.
“Even though Dylan was dealing with what no child should ever have to face, he always thought of others and wanted to help,” she said. “When he got an electric guitar, he hosted a concert at home and charged admission. He was so proud when he marched into George Ragsdale’s office and handed over the money he earned to the Children’s Miracle Network for the children’s hospital in Greenville and Chapel Hill.”
Dylan also wrote a cookbook, with the help of a teacher, to raise money for the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund.
It’s for that reason, the family comes together Sept. 18 for Dylan Day — a time to celebrate all the things Dylan loved and to raise money for a family in crisis.
“I am honored to be the first recipient of the Dylan Day Fundraiser to benefit others … words cannot express the caring, compassion, love and all the hard work the Moore family has shown to me and my family to make Dylan Day possible … Dylan’s light continues to shine bright as he reflects what Christian love is all about,” wrote T.W. Chambliss to The Daily Herald in 2010.
In 2011, proceeds went to the family of Lisa Seuis Wright.
Halifax Academy also gives the annual “Cowboy Up” scholarship to a worthy senior who exhibits the 10 most honorable traits in accordance with the “cowboy way,” (see page 21) and in honor of Dylan. This year’s recipient was Sarah Daughtery
“We learned so many lessons from Dylan,” Betsy said. “From simple lessons like wearing our socks inside out so that the seams don’t aggravate us, to the really complex lessons like ‘Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,’ and then to savor the rainbow, because like Dylan, the rainbow is only with us for a brief time, but it has such a huge impact,” Betsy said. “It takes your breath away, amazes you and makes you smile.”
Betsy said she remembers that one night while at the apartment in Minnesota she read Dylan his bedtime story, tucked him in, turned out the light, turned his music on, kissed him good night and turned to leave his room.
“It had been a hard day,” she said. “I stopped, went back over to his bed, lifted him into my arms and we danced. We danced in the rain! As we danced, Dylan hugged me and patted my back. I can close my eyes and still feel that pat on my back. I will never forget that dance.”
She said if she could give people any advice in life it would be to “Slow down, enjoy your friends and family, take those family photos, and make memories. Don’t make plans. Just do it!”.