It takes a little more effort these days for Jim Lawyer to smile, but he puts up a brave front for his wife Jeri and their family
You see behind his laughter is pain. The Lawyers lost their first born, Dalton, less than two years ago.
"He is all that I think about," Jim Lawyer said. "It's been 18 months and there's not a moment that goes by that I don't think about him. Usually he's the last thing I think about when I fall asleep and the first thing I think of in the morning."
Dalton was Jim and Jeri's miracle. It took five years for them to conceive. On January 17, 2001 they welcomed him into the world.
"Oh, he was such an easy baby," Jeri Lawyer said. "He was our first and I didn't realize that he was so easy until people kept telling me that."
Dalton was outgoing and a little star. He loved being outside and loved his role as big brother to triplets.
"He's what made this family go," Jim Lawyer said. "He was the catalyst. He decided what we were going to have for breakfast, he decided what games we were going to do, he decided what we were going to watch on TV. He was the ringleader for his brothers, and he was a very loving child and he liked to have fun."
In the summer of 2009 the Lawyers traveled to Ohio to visit family. 8-year-old Dalton was especially excited about the trip, but it was that vacation that changed the Lawyers' life forever.
"I was at my sisters and she has a daughter Dalton's age and she was starting cheerleader practice, so she went to practice and Dalton wanted to go," Jeri Lawyer said. "But he was kind of in trouble, so he had to stay and do some homework, some writing and stuff. So after he got done with that he wanted to go see the cheerleaders and it was down the street. So he got on his bike and he rode out of the driveway and he was so excited I think he wasn't paying much attention to anything else."
Dalton rode down the driveway and into the street without looking. A vehicle headed his direction did not have time to stop.
"He wasn't looking and the car hit him," Jeri Lawyer said. "I'm guessing he flew off the bike because the bike ended up underneath the truck and he did not. So after that he was unresponsive and laying in the street."
Dalton had suffered a major head injury. He was air-lifted to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo.
Jim and Jeri, a doctor and nurse by profession, knew the outlook wasn't good. However, they held out hope.
"You know I had seen some miracles happen before, so I was still fervently praying that somehow this would turn out to be not as serious as it was," Jim Lawyer said.
Dalton was in a coma. His injuries were just too traumatic.
"It was awful," Jeri Lawyer said. "It was just terrible. You are just waiting and waiting and of course doctors don't know what to tell you and we already knew kind of anyway. We were just hoping that something would happen that would make him wake up."
He never woke up. Dalton's brain swelling got so severe that he was declared brain dead five days after the accident.
"It was definitely the worst thing I've ever been through, knowing that there's nothing that I could do for my son," Jim Lawyer said.
Losing Dalton was hard, but making the decision for what came next was easy.
"We knew that he wasn't going to need them where ever he was going and that he could do a lot of good for some other people," Jim Lawyer said.
The Lawyers donated Dalton's organs.
One of his kidneys went to a grandmother near Toledo, Ohio, another to a 30-year-old school teacher. A child in Boston received his liver stomach and pancreas and a little girl, also in Boston, received his heart.
"I remember saying if we couldn't save Dalton we were going to save someone else and I truly believe that. Even though I didn't know who was going to be saved," Jim Lawyer said.
What the Lawyer's didn't know then was that a five-year-old girl lying in a Boston hospital, fighting for life, would soon receive a second chance.
Tuesday night on News 3 we will introduce you to Avery Toole.
A six-year-old little girl living in Boston, who fought five years just to survive. Every time her heart beats, she thinks of Dalton.
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