Community Rallies To Support Claremore Family After Toddler's Tragic Death
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - A community is rallying behind the family of a Green Country toddler who was killed over the weekend.
Eric Muskrat, III died Saturday during a birthday party at Oologah Lake. His father accidentally backed over him in his SUV.
To add to the heartache, the financial burden of funeral costs was weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of the family. Friends jumped into action to help raise money, so the toddler's parents have one less worry on their minds during such a difficult time.
Pastor Tracy Morgan of Cedar Point Church says an anonymous donor has paid for the boy's funeral. Morgan says the fundraising continues because the family has other expenses and the father was recently laid off.
With big brown eyes and an even bigger smile, little Eric could win over anyone's heart.
"Dancing -- always dancing, singing, smiling," family friend Lacy Smith said.
Those closest to the 2 1/2-year-old knew him as "Bubba," a little boy who was all boy.
"He liked to roughhouse, even sometimes when you weren't ready for it," Joy Smith said.
And like most toddlers, Bubba met Santa. And he wasn't happy about it. He liked riding his tricycle, and five months ago, he even welcomed a new baby brother to the world.
"It was just so obvious how much he loved all of his cousins and his brother and his family. He was just a wonderful little boy, he really was," Pastor Tracy Morgan of Cedar Point Church said.
Morgan said Bubba was so full of life that his family was in no way prepared to deal with his death.
"None of us are going through life expecting that we're going to have to bury our children. It's not supposed to be that way," Morgan said. "The last thing that we want is for them to have to be worrying about finances when they're trying to grieve."
To help ease the burden, friends and family organized a bake sale at Claremore Lake.
Fulgencio Photography was on site, snapping pictures in exchange for donations and auctioning off a free session.
"In just two-and-a-half years, he's left behind a legacy. The outreach, it shows that: how many people loved him," Morgan said.
"Bubba was loved, it's all there is to it. Even if you just met him once, you remembered him," Joy said.
Donations can be made to "Eric Muskrat III Memorial" at any RCB Bank branch.
Donations may also be mailed to:
PO Box 189
Claremore, OK 74018
A car wash fundraiser will be held at the Pizza Hut on Highway 66 in Claremore from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.