ST. LOUIS — The loss of a child is something no mother ever wants to experience. One Ellisville mom is turning her tragedy into a fulltime job and a lifelong mission to honor her young son's life.
Colton Armengol was born on March 16, 2000 with a very rare Gabrb2-associated neurodevelopment disorder that kept him from ever being able to communicate with his family, let alone live a normal life. This disorder was not diagnosed until much later in his life.
"He was nonverbal, wheelchair bound, visually impaired, had a seizure disorder,” said his mother Angie Kane.
At the time, there were not many known cases around the world, and Colton was the oldest child alive. There was no available cure and Colton had already lived past his life expectancy of five years. Years went by, test after test at St. Louis Children's Hospital and a specialist in New York and no one could tell them what was wrong with Colton.
This didn't stop Colton from growing and making a huge impact.
"One-hundred and sixty pounds and 5 foot 9 inches, he was like a gentle giant," added Kane.
Colton endured surgery after surgery and was on multiple medications. He could not take care of himself, so the family had to hire medical aides to be with him 24/7. Colton required a suction machine to be at his side at all times to keep his lungs clear.
Colton attended a special school for about 15 years and graduated last May. During the pandemic, Kane kept him home and was thrilled that he never contracted COVID-19.
After his graduation from Southview, the next phase would be to attend a day program. Kane called 15 agencies, but no one would take him.
"They said he was too medically fragile, why should my son who's limited in his abilities not have the same rights as the other kids? I was very angry," said Kane.
Kane fueled that anger into a mission. Kane was surprised to find there were no places for young adults like Colton to go which places a burden on families for in-home care from a financial standpoint.
"He passed away at the age of 21. His 22nd birthday would have been March 16 and on that day, we launched Colton's Cause,” said Kane.
The Colton's Cause Foundation was formed to provide financial support to families of special needs children and young adults for equipment, modifications to the home and nursing care. With private nurses and aides in high demand, there are many ways the community can help besides a monetary donation.
"If you're a nurse or doctor or therapist and would like to give some of your time to a family in need, you can donate your time" said former St. Louis Blues enforcer Reed Low.
Low is serving as the auctioneer at the Colton's Cause pub crawl this weekend in Soulard.
"The coolest thing we have is an Albert Pujols authentically signed jersey and those are hard to get, Albert doesn't sign a lot of authentic stuff,” said Low.
The pub crawl is in Soulard on June 18. You can attend brunch and the crawl or just the crawl. For more information on the cause and the fundraiser, visit the Colton's Cause Facebook page or its website. Molly's, The Great Grizzly Bar and Social Bar and Grill are all participating.
Their goal is to reach $100,000 this year with many more fundraisers to come.
"I feel him, I know he's with me and I have to turn something so sad into good and I will do it,” Kane said.