Riley's Story

Riley's Story by Nicole and Darby Bourgeois


On a day that forever altered the course of our lives, June 30, 2018, we faced every parent's worst nightmare. The kind words from Mr. John, the Acadian helicopter pilot who transported us to the Children’s hospital, did little to ease the sheer weight of our despair. He assured me this was the darkest day we would ever endure, and he was right.

Just an hour earlier, our beloved Riley had slipped unnoticed into the neighbor's swimming pool. Discovered too late, he was immediately pulled from the water, and CPR was administered in a frantic attempt to save him. As first responders took over, I stood frozen, watching my vibrant boy lying still, offering up endless prayers for a miracle. Over the next heart-wrenching two days in the PICU, with every beat of our own hearts feeling like a painful echo of his silence, we waited for a sign. But at 10:12 pm on July 2, 2018, Riley embarked on his final adventure, leaving this world for the heavens, far sooner than any of us were ready to let him go.

Riley came into our world on July 8, 2016, instantly filling it with joy and boundless energy. As the middle of his brothers, he never let his size define his spirit. He was a fearless explorer, quicker and more curious than any child I've known, always ready for his next adventure. His time with us was painfully short, but he managed to leave an indelible mark on not just our hearts, but on everyone he encountered. His smile alone could light up the darkest rooms, and his absence left a void that words can hardly describe.

In the wake of our unimaginable loss, we witnessed something extraordinary. The community, both near and far, drawn together by Riley’s story, seemed to find a renewed closeness and a deeper faith. The news of his passing spread across the globe, touching hearts in 21 countries and 49 states. Over 1,200 people came to pay their respects and celebrate the too-short life of a boy whose spirit knew no bounds. Father PJ captured it perfectly during the service, saying Riley was simply off on another one of his adventures, his free spirit guiding him as always. He ventured fearlessly, as was his nature, not understanding the danger he was in. Riley lived life on his own terms, a lesson for us all in the preciousness of every moment.

Riley taught us the true meaning of "Life" with every breath he took. He lived fully, fearlessly, and left a legacy of love that continues to inspire us. As we move forward, building the Blue Boot Foundation in his honor, we're driven by his memory to ensure no other family endures this kind of loss. Riley's story is one of both profound sorrow and inspiring legacy, a reminder that life is a precious, fleeting gift to be cherished and protected. Our angel, forever missed and forever inspiring us to make the world a safer place for all children.

Riley's Blue Boots

Riley always loved to wear his blue and orange fishing boots. Wherever he went he had to wear them. It was because of these boots, and his love for them, that we decided on the name of the Foundation and the Rodeo