West County families become bonded after life-altering moment

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 7:41 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Two West County families, living minutes apart, were total strangers until a life-altering moment changed everything. It’s a tragedy that’s entwined them together forever.

“We went in there and started resuscitating Colton. It just, it was difficult,” Mark Gilliam said.

Gilliam’s been a Metro West firefighter and paramedic for years. However, October 22, 2021, wasn’t just another day on the job.

“He kept going and within two minutes, possible it was two minutes, it seemed like hours, they got a pulse,” Angie Kane said.

Kane is Colton’s mom. She said first responders rushed her son to the hospital. At the time, he was 21, non-verbal and required 24-hour care.

“We had to make some very, you know, serious decisions. On October 26, Colton passed,” Kane said.

“The night that we ran Colton, I remember Angie just screaming ‘please save my baby! This can’t be it, please don’t take him!’ Those words just haunted me just thinking about that being Charlie,” Mark Gilliam explained.

Charlie is Mark and Lauren Gilliam’s 2-year-old son who has Koolen De Vries Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder.

“In June this year, we stand witness to Charlie being resuscitated,” Mark Gilliam said.

After that, Mark and Lauren Gilliam were searching for ways to help their son. That’s when they came across Colton’s Cause. What they didn’t realize was Kane started it months after her son passed away to help Metro families who have children with disabilities.

“Mark was kind of looking over my shoulder and he said ‘Lauren, do you remember that time in October when I came home right after that call?’ He goes, ‘that was him’,” Lauren Gilliam explained.

The families see it as more than just a coincidence.

“What are the chances that Mark was going to be working? I’ll never be able to repay what Mark and the other paramedics and firemen did for me, because I was able to be with my son for those three extra days,” Kane explained.

On Wednesday, Kane was reunited with those five Metro West paramedics.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Kane told them.

“We completely believe that Colton brought us together,” Lauren Gilliam said.

It’s a bond between two families that will never be broken.

Through September, the Koolen De Vries Syndrome Foundation is raising money for research. Charlie and his family have already raised more than $10,000. To donate to Koolen De Vries, click here.

For Colton’s Cause, they’re actively taking donations too. There’s also a local fundraiser in November. Click here for more information.