The parents of a 6-year-old Georgia boy who died from an amoebic infection Friday shared a note that he wrote and left for them at their home before he left for the hospital.
Leland Shoemake, who was being treated at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta after contracting Balamuthia mandrillaris in his brain, left a note for his parents that read, “Still with you. Thank you mom and dad.” Amber and Tim Shoemake, Leland’s parents, shared the note with Leland’s supporters on the Facebook page “Prayers for Leland.” They found it after returning home to pick out clothes for his funeral.
“We were in shock and broke down as soon as we saw it,” Amber told ABC News. “He was amazing in life and still is after his passing. He touched everyone he met and we are amazed at how many lives he’s touched since he left us.”
Leland was in first grade at Pike County Primary School and had been sick for nearly a month. It is believed his contracted the amoeba while playing outside.
“The one thing he loved most was playing in the dirt. I never imagined that would be the thing that would take him from me,” Amber wrote in a Facebook post. “He was my world.” She added that Leland enjoyed watching History (the TV channel), was an Adam Sandler fan and loved facts pertaining to WWII.
The community held prayer vigils and rallied around him, holding special ceremonies at football games spreading the “Leland Strong” message. Nearly 15,000 people liked the Facebook support page, with others raising nearly $14,000 to help cover medical expenses through a GoFundMe page.
In addition to his parents, Leland leaves behind a 1-year-old brother named Logan.