NEW ORLEANS -- Jaymee Cry will tell you she's a better mom to her younger son because of the older son who motivates her.
“It's true,” she said. “I grew as a person because of Logan. I'm a better mother because of him.”
This is Logan's story: a little boy who through fate, fortitude and love triggered a chain of events that's brought his family to a place of laughter and hope to families of sick boys all over the world.
“I had a special boy and he taught me a lot,” Jaymee said.
Logan's story starts before his birth and about 900 miles away in Ohio. His mother had just been dealt a triple blow. She was single, pregnant and a carrier of a rare disease known as ALD.
It’s a deadly genetic disorder that destroys the membrane surrounding nerve cells in the brain. It affects 50 percent of boys born to carrier mothers.
Jaymee took her chances, and Logan was born.
“He was the perfect baby,” she said.
If a child has ALD, symptoms usually appear before age 10. In early childhood Logan had none, but his mother lived in fear.
“Not a lot of information was given to me, so I'm like, what do you do? Where do you go? And the doctors didn't know anything about it.”
So she turned to the Internet and emailed the ALD Foundation, not expecting the CEO to personally call back.
“I was just like somebody finally understood what I was going through,” Jaymee said.
He understood because the Slidell executive has the non-lethal adult form himself.
“I woke up one morning and my legs wouldn't work,” he said.
At 29, David Cry's life had changed immeasurably, and so had his purpose.
After his diagnosis, he founded the ALD Foundation and later found the love of his life. Logan was the link.
“I think it was either February or March of 2003 that I received the email from Jaymee,” David said.
The two talked daily about Logan. A year and a half later, they met in person.
“Fifteen days later he proposes,” Jaymee said. “What man does that?”
David said it was the “best decision I ever made.”
Jaymee and David got married, and no one was happier than Logan. His mom had a husband, he had a dad and a few years later, thanks to invitro, baby brother Brennan was born disease free.
Brennan loves to talk about Logan.
“Well, I used to try to tackle him but he was too tough,” he said.
By all appearances, Logan was the strong big brother, but shortly after his 12th birthday, he started exhibiting symptoms -- difficulty comprehending, staying focused and on task. An MRI confirmed the worst.
Jaymee saw the doctors reviewing the scans.
“I said, ‘wow, that's very interesting.’ They're like, yeah, this kid right here has ALD,” Jaymee said. “I said, what? I said that's my son's MRI. ‘I'm so sorry, we thought you were an intern’ -- that's how the news was broken to me."
Knowing there was no cure, Jaymee never told Logan. Instead, inspired by his love of life, the whole family just kept living it to the fullest while David worked feverishly to find answers.
He contacted doctors around the world, connected carriers with stem cell researchers, everything in the name of Logan.
“He made me try harder. He made me try harder every day.”
But time was running out. Comparing ALD to the movie Benjamin Button, Jaymee said her son mentally regressed until he could no longer walk, talk, move, eat or breathe. He passed eight months ago. Holding him in her arms, Jaymee told him it was OK to go.
“There's good places for you in heaven because I wanted him to be able to run and play and talk!” she said. “Things he couldn't do in his earthly body.”
But that's not where the story ends. While Logan's life ended that day, his legacy was just born in breakthrough research that could help all future families dealing with ALD.
One of those phone calls that David made connecting a carrier family with scientists, led to the very first stem cell line that could provide answers.
A researcher at Michigan University personally called David last month.
And so while Logan will be indescribably missed, his legacy of love, a zest for life and hope for others endures.
That's why as the holidays approach, the Cry family can smile knowing the world is in a better place, and so is the little boy who brought us there.