METAMORA -- Putting on a winter coat may seem like no big deal but for some kids with special needs, even a task as simple as that can be a daily struggle.
One mother's loss is encouraging her to improve the lives of many others.
Alecia Marshall's son Kyler was born with severe special needs. He passed away when he was just four years old.
Marshall remembers one part of Kyler's life that was always a struggle. She said it was one she knew, somehow, could be avoided.
She said, "To put a coat on him and force his arms through the little openings was very hard and often times in the mornings he was crying and it was just a struggle."
That's when she made him a special coat. "It's just a long blanket with a hole around its head and the hole fits perfectly over the head."
She calls it a Kyler Koat... and it's a project that's become her passion.
She said, "Eliminating just one stress in the life of a family with a child with a disability is a huge thing."
Last week, Marshall delivered 21 Kyler Koats to special needs students at the Peoria School her son once attended. She said as much as she's helping them, they're returning the favor.
Marshall said this Christmas is the first one she's finally excited for. "Christmas was always very special to our family and this is the first year I'm finally excited about it again."
She said Kyler loved bells... a sound she often hears around the holidays.
When she dropped off the coats at Thomas Jefferson, it was perfect timing.
She said, "When we were at Thomas Jefferson I came in during their little music and they were singing Christmas carols and they had little bells."
She knows Kyler lives on in every coat she creates.
If you want to help:
E-mail Alecia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her (309) 256-0172.
She accepts donations to make the coats. It costs between $30 and $50 to make a Kyler Koat. The Marshalls give them away for free.