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Matchbox cars scattered to honor boy crushed by tombstone

Published: Thursday, July 11 2013 3:15 p.m. MDT

LEHI — Hundreds of Matchbox cars were recently scattered as gifts to children all across the world to honor the first anniversary of the tragic death of a 4-year-old Lehi boy.

Carson Dean Cheney died July 5, 2012, when a tombstone toppled on top of him at Glenwood Cemetery in Park City during a family photo shoot. Just before his death, Carson clenched a blue Matchbox car with white stripes in his hand.

“As we were coming up on the year mark of Carson’s accident, we wanted to do something to celebrate his life,” said Zac Cheney, Carson's father. “And one thing about Carson is that he always had a car in his hand. … You could find them in his pockets or he’d always be carrying one around.”

Cheney said his wife, Hilary, held tight the blue and white-striped Hot Wheels car after a family friend found it in the cemetery, where it had been lost when Carson was rushed to the hospital with his parents.

Cheney said Hilary came up with the idea a few months ago to ask friends and family members to celebrate Carson’s life on July 5 by buying Matchbox cars, attaching notes with links to Carson’s story on a Facebook page, and leaving the cars in places where children may find them.

The tags read: “Please enjoy this gift in honor of Carson Cheney, July 31, 2007 to July 5, 2012. Please visit Carson’s Facebook page to upload a photo of where you found a car and to see where others have been found. Thank you for helping us celebrate Carson’s life by spreading joy to others.”

While the Matchbox cars were initially distributed around town by neighbors and family members, Carson’s memory has spread across the world, even as far as England and Guatemala, Cheney said.

“We’re really amazed at the response that we got from all of our friends, people all around the country, and even people traveling to different parts of the world that were saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to take some cars with us and leave them there in honor of Carson,” he said.

“It’s just something that you know would bring a smile to Carson’s face, and we just wanted to help spread that joy to other kids that might find those cars.”

Friends, family and even strangers continue to post pictures of their children who found the Matchbox cars, along with messages about Carson’s memory and his family on the Carson Courage page, www.facebook.com/CarsonDeanCheney.

Cheney said he didn’t know exactly how many Matchbox cars have now been scattered, but since almost 300 people follow the Carson Courage Facebook page, at least hundreds, if not thousands, of Matchbox cars are finding their way into children’s hands and being passed to other families as Carson’s story spreads.

“You see the best in people around you because they come out and want to show their love and respect,” Cheney said. “That’s been really humbling. Just so many people have reached out in some way or another, even if it was just a simple, kind comment that they said.”

Laura Kooyman, a mother of five from Lehi, found one of the Matchbox cars on her doorstep Wednesday morning. She said she was brought to tears as she followed the link to the Carson Courage Facebook page and remembered his tragic story.

“I thought it was just a really sweet idea and a great way to remember him,” Kooyman said. “It’s a good way to help (his family) heal, and I hope that it just helps them remember what kind of child he was and have positive feelings instead of negative feelings.”

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