Nearly a week after three-year-old Casey Hathaway was found alive in Ernul, the community who helped search for him is planning to celebrate his life.
A “Casey Hathaway Community Celebration” event is scheduled for Saturday, April 6th at 2 p.m. at Creekside Park in New Bern
Casey went missing from his great-grandmother’s home on January 22.
A massive rescue mission by hundreds of volunteer and professional search teams followed.
The boy was found alive that Thursday roughly a quarter of a mile from where he went missing.
Since the search, many in the community have processed the boy’s safe return as a miracle.
A group of those who volunteered in the search are planning an event to honor the toddler and the hundreds in the community who pitched in to help.
Ina Thomas was one of those searching through the dense woods of Ernul.
Thomas said of her efforts, “This was an opportunity where I could actually get out there and help.”
Thomas is leading a group aiming to raise money for a free family-friendly event in celebration of how the community came together.
Thomas stressed the event is at the approval of, but separate from the family. All money raised is going to the event and the Carolina East Medical Center’s fund for women and children patients.
“I want to bring all these same people, rescuers and everybody together to celebrate this and what a great community we have,” Thomas said.
In addition to the event, Thomas is raising money to go toward a New Bern bear to be created in memory of the search and rescue efforts.
The bear, becoming as much of a symbol of hope after this search as it is for the city of New Bern.
Casey’s story making even more headlines when the toddler said a bear kept him company while he was gone.
Whether one did or didn’t, this group views Casey’s story as one of hope.
Wayne Barnett is also helping organize the event. Barnett said, “The more communities across the country can come together the way the people of eastern North Carolina have come together, during the hurricane, during this search, and in times of trouble, it’s grand. It shows the whole world that communities can come together and act as one.”
The organizers are collecting donations for the event.
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