JEFFERSON, Texas (KSLA) — How do you measure the size of someone’s heart? It’s a challenging question to approach.
For Bernice Stangle, the answer is obvious: By observing the way her 8-year-old grandson, Reed Anderson, lovingly treated everyone around him.
“He was just so full of love for anybody; and it seems like everyone who met him fell right in love with him,” Stangle said. “He didn’t know hate, he didn’t know bullying, he didn’t know anything bad.”
However, Jefferson isn’t as bright as it was once. On Oct. 24, Reed, alongside his two brothers and mother, were involved in a gut-wrenching wreck on Texas Highway 49.
“Oh, my God,” Stangle said. “I got a call from my son, ‘Mom, there’s been an accident'.”
Reed and his family were on their way to a Jefferson High football game when a car ran into the rear of their vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and wind up in a ditch, she said.
Reed’s injuries were life-threatening.
“You don’t want your baby to hurt, whether it’s physical or mental,” Stangle said. “You just don’t want them to hurt.”
Reed was flown Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport, where he ultimately ended up in life support.
His mother and brothers also were injured but are going to be okay.
With Reed in a very fragile condition, his parents made a bold and selfless decision to take him off life support and donate his organs.
“I was surprised, but not really surprised,” Stangle said. “I know he’s with Jesus and I know he’ll be happy there.”
Hospital staffers lined the hallway for an Honor Walk as Reed was taken into the operating room.
Reed donated his kidneys, liver, pancreas and heart to four children in need. His lungs and intestines are going to research.
When asked what she wishes she could say to Reed, Stangle replied:
"Do you realize how special you are? How many people love you and wish you were still here? You did something so special.”
Reed attended Jefferson Elementary School with a thirst to learn, play and use his imagination. He had a special love for trains and was buried in a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed casket. He dreamed of riding across in the country in Union Pacific’s Big Boy locomotive.
“From ear to ear, he had the biggest smile,” Stangle recalled.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Andersons as expenses continue to mount following the wreck and Reed’s death. Click here to donate.