Memory of 4-year-old Nacogdoches boy will live on in playground named in his honor

Memory of 4-year-old Nacogdoches boy will live on in playground named in his honor
Dane and his grandmother Gina (Source: Shaw family)
Dane and his grandmother Gina (Source: Shaw family)
Dane's Playground (Source: Shaw family)
Dane's Playground (Source: Shaw family)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The memory of Nacogdoches 4-year-old Dane Shaw will continue to live on with a new playground.

On Monday, friends and family will get the chance to welcome "Dane's Playground" to the Nacogdoches Baseball Complex.

Dane's mom and dad - Alex and Justin - said the ribbon cutting ceremony is getting them one step closer to finding solace with the grief they feel every day.

In June of 2013, Dane and his grandmother, Gina, were both killed in an early morning house fire, and as the Shaws told East Texas News, surviving the pain of losing a child is unimaginable.

However, through the community's support and the memory of Dane's smiling face, they are pulling through one day at a time.

Each day, Justin slips a Lightning McQueen car into his pocket as a way to remember Dane, who loved the movie "Cars."

"He was so smart. He cared about everybody," Alex said. "Like everybody was his best friend, is what he used to call everybody. He used to tell them, 'he's my best friend.'"

From Dane's cute-as-a-button smile to his love for baseball, there isn't a day that goes by when his parents don't remember the good things.

"He wanted to go have a bouncy house for his birthday, so he had already … he was already talking about that," Alex said.

The Shaws said they thought their lives were "perfect" until everything came crashing down.

 “As a father, you're supposed to protect your son, your children, your wife,” Justin said. “That's what you're supposed to do, and when it happened, I mean, immediately, I was helpless."

Investigators believe the house fire that killed Dane and his grandmother started in the kitchen.

The Shaws said the pain of losing a child never goes away.

"You're going to have your bad days. Live in the moment, whatever that is, if you're going to be mad that day, go ahead and be mad," Justin said. "Let it happen cause that's the only way you are going to get through it."

Since the tragic fire, the couple has been given an outpouring of love and support from the community from a memorial tree at adventure island day care to a new playground. They're all signs that Dane's spirit continues to thrive in the Nacogdoches community.

"This is our home, and we're so thankful for the people here and in Lufkin and Center and Carthage, you know, everywhere," Alex said.

The couple said their emotions can sometimes get the best of them.

However, through their faith in God, the Shaws have finally been able to come to terms with the loss of their beautiful little boy and his caring grandmother.

"Thank God we were able to get into church, be active you know?" Alex said. "And find God in that peace within us. If it wasn't for that, I don't even know. It's kind of cliché to say, 'Thank God,' but if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here, and that is seriously the God-honest truth."

"The only thing that gives us hope is knowing that I will see you again someday," Justin said.

The Shaws said they spend a lot of their time helping other families deal with the loss of their own children. They said without support from other couples, they would've never been able to do it.

The ribbon-cutting will start on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

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