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Mom collecting pop cans to help pay for son's funeral



KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Before Ashley Schau could speak about her young son Leonard, she took a few deep breaths.
“He loved to swim. And, he loved the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He loved school,” Schau said. “He loved his mom. He loved his dad. He loved being outdoors.”
He loved country music too and going disc-golfing with Schau and her team, she said.
Mookie, as she affectionately called him, was the happiest kid ever, she said. His teachers at Woods Edge Elementary knew it too.
“I actually just went there today to pick up his clothes, and sat there and talked with his teachers for like 30 minutes,” Schau said during an interview with FOX 17 on Tuesday. “It was good. It was bitter sweet.”
Schau lost 8-year-old Mookie five months ago. He battled seizures his entire life after being diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy at 10-months old.
Schau said they’ve visited the children’s hospital in Ann Arbor 72 times in his short life.
“He battled epilepsy so much he was on nine different seizure meds,” Schau said. “Then we finally got approved to do CBD, once it was legal, because we were at our last resort.”
She said the treatment worked. He didn’t have a seizure for nine months. He was active and moving around. However, his health began to decline earlier this year.
“He started having 50 mini seizures a day,” Schau said. “We were scheduled to have a VNS put in him. It’s a Vagus Nerve Simulator. It stimulates the brain. And, because of COVID they told me that it was an elective surgery.”
So, they were denied, she said. Two weeks later, in April, Mookie passed away. He was 8-years-old.
“I not only lost my son, I lost my identity,” Schau said. “I grew all these relationships with all these teachers and doctors. It’s been a hard five months.”
After he died, Schau gave him a small ceremony, she said. They weren’t allowed to have more than 10 people due to COVID. However, she’s fundraising to give him a proper burial.
“He touched way more than 10 people,” Schau said. “My disc-golf league, they were helping me with the pop-can drive.”
Recently Schau began collecting pop cans and using the money exchanged for them for Mookie’s funeral. She posted the fundraiser to social media and it went viral, she said.
“People have been just so generous and they probably just don’t want to take back the pop cans because it’s so many of them,” Schau laughed. “But, there’s still so many good people out in this world.”
So far, she’s raised $900.
Wednesday she underwent surgery and said she’ll be out the next three weeks recovering. Her plan is to use the money for Mookie’s funeral and the rest for her post-surgery needs.
“I wish I could have just one more day with him,” Schau said. “Take him swimming and just see his smile. That’s what I miss the most.”
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