Three months ago, Latonya Moore's life was turned upside down.
Her 11-year-old son, Evan Thomas, was found unresponsive on Dec 13. Thomas, a sixth-grader at Glenview Middle School in East Moline, was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia that Moore described as being stage three.
Since that time, Evan has been undergoing treatment at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria.
Moore has three other children — DeJone, 16; Casha, 14; and Faron, 9 — and has been trying to take the bus to and from Peoria to spend the necessary time with Evan. Taking the bus to Peoria and back left little flexibility for Moore and her husband, Aaron.
What Moore needed was reliable transportation.
Moline Police officer Pat Moody heard about her situation and stepped up to the challenge.
With the help of the Moline Municipal Credit Union and a friend at Cheap Cars in Silvis, Moore received a surprise gift Tuesday: A 2005 Ford Freestyle ready to go with taxes, registration and insurance paid for a year.
Tuesday marked the fifth time Moody has stepped in to provide a car for someone in need, and the second time the credit union has helped.
Moore also received a much-needed check from the GoFundMe account that was set up by teachers at Glenview Middle School and a Chicago Bears sweatshirt and cap for Evan.
“He can sit up now and put it on,” Moore said.
“I just can’t believe this. I feel like I’m over the hill, thank you Jesus," Moore said as she gave a hug to Connie Adkison, president and CEO of the Moline Municipal Credit Union. "I don’t know how we could do this, or conceive to do this, without all of you."
Reflecting on the gift, Moore said she is thankful above all else.
“I get to bring my kids where they can actually see that there are kind and good and decent people in the world. I get a chance to raise them in peace and calm and tranquility," she said.
The three Glenview Middle School teachers who raised the money — Lisa Cantrell, Margo Miller and Talia Gryp — said Evan is a nice kid who is willing to do anything to help others. And it wasn't just the three teachers who contributed — the entire district chipped in to raise money.
The most recent car Moody provided, the first time the credit union was involved, went in October to a family that immigrated to the area from Sudan.
The first recipient was Danielle Robinson, whose car was totaled in a crash that Moody investigated. “I felt so bad for her,” Moody said.
Courtney Watson and Jenni Renfro were the second and third recipients of Moody’s generosity.
“He got me a truck two years ago just after Thanksgiving,” Watson said. “That truck takes me everywhere I need to go.”
But it’s not all that Moody does for people, Watson said. “He has given all kinds of stuff to different people and kids. There was a guy who got around on a bicycle and Pat bought him a new pair of shoes and insulated pants. He does a lot for people.”
Evan’s next stop after getting out of OSF Saint Francis, Moore said, will be to a rehabilitation facility in Chicago. Evan experiences paralysis and will need extensive physical therapy as he continues to fight the cancer.
Anyone who would like to donate to Evan and his family may do so at www.gofundme.com/evan-thomas-benefit-fund.