Boy's grief for best friend gives birth to a monumental effort

Updated: Jul. 13, 2017 at 11:13 PM CDT
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(Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA)
(Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA)
(Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA)
(Source: Jeff Ferrell/KSLA)

SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KSLA) - The strongest of friendships can transcend death. That includes the bond felt by a young man who recently lost his best friend in a fatal school bus crash. Now he's honoring his friend the only way he knows how.

All of us deal with grief in our own way. For a 12-year old east Texas boy, on the autism spectrum, his grief has turned into a monumental effort to remember and celebrate his best friend, who is gone but not forgotten.

12-year-old Trent Sims is a young man with a big heart who misses his best friend, 13-year-old Victor Lee, now buried here at Oaklawn Memorial Park Cemetery near Center, Texas.

Trent's mom, Brandi Hodges, has taken him there often since the fatal school bus crash back on the afternoon of Monday, May 15 in their hometown of Shelbyville, that claimed Victor Lee's life.

Hodges told us that during their frequent visits to the cemetery, Trent began noticing all the graves without flowers. So, he grabbed a leaf and a pine cone and put it in one of the vases.

"And he said, 'you know, I know it's not as nice as a flower but that's all I had right now," recalled Hodges.

Hodges described how, during their next visit, Trent spotted the blue trash barrels at Oaklawn used for discarding old flowers.

"So, he went to the trash barrel and he started looking through them and he said, 'you know, a lot of these are still good,'" added Hodges.

She said within minutes her son began digging through one of the blue barrels. "And he said, you know, 'I'd rather them have something on there than nothing."

That was the birth of #ProjectCemetery. "And so he went back home and he started asking family members, you know, 'hey, have you got any flowers I can have?'" continued Hodges.

After she posted her son's efforts on social media, the community began donating flowers. That's now blossomed into #ProjectCemetery Day at Oaklawn.

It gets underway at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 22 at Oaklawn Memorial Park Cemetery. That's 3 miles east of Center, Texas on Highway 7.

Hodges said it's her son's own unique way of grieving and honoring his best friend Victor Lee; Gone, but never forgotten.

Trent's mom said everyone is invited to come out and help him fill the cemetery with flowers or just come out to support. Trent's favorite flower color is a light blue.

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