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Wilson mother holds a balloon release on her late son’s fourth birthday

Published: May. 1, 2021 at 10:07 PM CDT
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WILSON, Okla. (KXII) - A Wilson mother celebrated her late son’s fourth birthday with family and friends by releasing balloons in his memory.

“It’s hard, I understand how hard it is to deal with grief, but there’s different ways to handle it and people grieve in their own way,” said Kyla Burgess, mother to James Smith Jr. who passed away in July 2020 while living with his father and two other family members.

Police said James Jr. allegedly fell from a crib and was taken to the hospital with little to no pulse. His aunt was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for manslaughter. His father and uncle are due in court this summer for charges in relation to James’ death. James’ uncle pleaded not guilty to child abuse.

Burgess said Saturday would’ve been his fourth birthday, but it was also her first one that she’s celebrating without him.

“I don’t like celebrating my son’s birthday at a cemetery,” said Burgess. “Right now, I’m going to try and just deal with and I have to realize, actually realize that he’s gone and focus on me and my daughter.”

Burgess honored her son’s memory by hosting a balloon release with family and friends.

“Everyone keeps telling me he’s looking down on me smiling, so I hope he sees everyone,” said Burgess.

She said her goal is to be an advocate for child abuse, and to warn other Southern Oklahoma parents and parents around the world to know the signs of abuse within a family and shine a light for kids in need.

“It doesn’t matter who it is, it doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend, your sister, your brother, your mom or dad, no kid deserves to go through what my baby did,” said Burgess.

If you believe a child is being abused or exploited, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or your local police department.

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