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Mom to honor son’s memory in Bayside hospital fund walk

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Outliving a child is not something Queens Village resident Stacy Preddy would wish upon any mother.

She called the death last summer of her son Ellis Jr., who suffered from cerebral palsy, a devastating experience.

But the staff of St. Mary's Hospital for Children, where her son died, made the day of her 16-year-old son's death a little more bearable for Preddy and her family by providing constant and compassionate care, she said.

"Even though they knew these were his last moments, they never left us," she said. "At no time were we ever left to feel that we were alone."

It is for this reason that Preddy is raising money for the children's hospital by participating in the hospital's fifth annual Walk for St. Mary's Kids and Family Fun Day, which will be held Sunday at Belmont Park in Elmont, L.I.

Ellis Jr. had been a patient at St. Mary's on and off since he was a toddler.

Preddy had taken her son to rehabilitation centers in the city before, but said her son always seemed most happy after a stay at St. Mary's. Whenever Preddy would visit the hospital, Ellis Jr. was always smiling and laughing, she said.

He died due to breathing complications at St. Mary's Aug. 20, 2007. Preddy remembers the day her son died vividly.

Early that morning, Preddy and her husband, Ellis Sr., were called to the hospital and told their son might not make it through the day. The hospital staff cleared out a nurses' lounge so Preddy and her family could be alone with their son. The day was spent with frequent visits from Ellis Jr.'s three younger brothers, family and friends, who all laughed, sang and talked with him.

St. Mary's staff came in and rubbed Ellis Jr.'s body with scented oils and used other aromatherapy methods to soothe him. Ellis Jr.'s handprints and footprints were taken and later delivered to Preddy in a beautiful box with a poem. In the evening, the hospital called a nun to visit.

After nearly 12 hours of saying goodbye, Ellis Jr. took his last breathe.

Later, Preddy said she wanted to find a way to repay the hospital for how well they treated Ellis Jr. and her family. The upcoming walk proved the perfect opportunity.

Preddy called upon members of her social group, Mizz City Rydaz, and her husband's group, Big City Rydaz, to raise money for the hospital.

So far, the groups have raised funds from local businesses and continue to champion St. Mary's' services.

At the event Sunday, Preddy said she will walk in her son's memory, but will also walk for other families who have a child with special needs.

"I'm walking for the kids that need St. Mary's, who otherwise may not get the care that St. Mary's provides," she said.

Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at kgagnon@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.

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