FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s been nine months since the capital murder of Florence 3-year-old Kaiden Garner and his family continues to grieve.
Florence Police said the toddler was a victim of a tragic case of child abuse. The boy’s father, Blake Townsend, and Yalrick Pride are accused of beating him and making the death look like heat exhaustion.
Kaiden’s family has started a new organization that they hope will prevent another tragedy like this from happening to another family.
It’s an experience that Kaiden’s grandfather Leslie Garner—his mother’s father—said no child should ever have to endure.
“The Bible says it takes a village to raise kids and that’s why the community must get involved,” Leslie said.
To raise awareness and prevention, Leslie founded The Kaiden Garner Project, a nonprofit organization devoted to stopping child maltreatment—but the idea began long before Kaiden’s passing. It stems from Leslie’s own experiences.
“It actually happened because myself, being a child abused as I was as I was growing up, I had sat on it all these years and I thought it was over with, but the death of my grandson is what inspired me to do something,” Leslie explained.
Saturday at 9 a.m., the organization is having its first major fundraiser, the inaugural Child Abuse Prevention (C.A.P) Awareness Walkathon in memory of Kaiden. Participants will meet at Helen Keller hospital and march down Avalon Avenue to an event at Avalon Park.
The event will have guest speakers, activities for kids, and free food.
Leslie said community can be a powerful thing and bringing everyone together to raise awareness can potentially save another life from be taken.
Donations to the organization will be used for ongoing efforts to bring child abuse prevention and awareness to the forefront as well as funding meal giveaways throughout the community.
Donations can be made at any First Metro Bank location under the Kaiden Garner Project. You can also donate via PayPal to the email, firstname.lastname@example.org.