Thank You to everyone that donated to his funeral expenses - it is paid in full!
By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
When Xander McWalters was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at 18 months old, his family was told that he wouldn’t make it to his second birthday.
Xander defied the odds and became an inspiration to those who knew him as well as those who followed his story on “Xander and his Boo,” a Facebook page created after he received his beloved service dog in 2014.
One of the things that Facebook fans knew about Xander was that he collected patches.
Dozens of patches from fire departments and police departments from all areas of the country cover the door and wall in his room.
“The first came from a police officer we knew. He [Xander] was about to have scoliosis surgery. He sent him a badge and a patch, and he just really loved receiving that,” his mom, Amanda Booth, said.
Xander also enjoyed spending time with one of his nurses who is a volunteer firefighter, and fire departments near his home in Clarksville, Tennessee, and Houston County, Tennessee, made him an honorary member.
When Xander passed away last week at the age of 9, his firefighter friends contacted the Jasper Fire Department and asked if they would help them pay tribute to a brave young man.
On Sunday night, a line of local firefighters filed past Xander’s casket, which was topped with a firefighter’s emblem.
On Monday morning, a large American flag flew from the top of Jasper Fire’s ladder truck and several firefighters saluted as a hearse carried Xander to his final resting place at Hunters Chapel Cemetery.
“It was very heartwarming to see that. I don’t think there are words to describe how you feel when something like that happens,” Booth said.
Although Xander’s body never would have allowed him to serve alongside the firefighters he so admired, he found other ways to show his heroism.
On Memorial Day, one hour before he was rushed to the hospital for the final time, Xander drove his wheelchair three miles in honor of a fallen soldier as part of “Wear Blue: Run to Remember.”
Xander’s organs were also donated at his request.
“He knew because of SMA that this was going to happen and it would happen at an early age, so he made sure to tell me how he wanted things done,” Booth said.
Donations in Xander’s memory can be made to his favorite charity, www.smaangels.org
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