LAYTON — Every year, a Layton mother decorates her home and hands out glow sticks in memory of her son, who was struck by a car while trick-or-treating on Halloween. She almost decided to skip the tradition this year, but she said a chance encounter brought new hope to her life.
Crystal Conover gets ready for her son's favorite holiday every year.
"It's a very emotional process, lots of time outs and lots of tears," said Conover. "Jayden loved Halloween."
Sadly, 13-year-old Jayden Rathbone is no longer here.
"This (year) marks nine years … that we have been without Jayden," said Conover.
Jayden was hit by a distracted driver while trick-or-treating down a dark street in Uintah in 2011.
"I never want another family to have to experience what I had," she said.
Looking for a way to honor Jayden's legacy, she began decorating the year after his death and became concerned when she noticed many children wearing dark costumes. That inspired her to hand out more than just candy the following year.
"We decided glow sticks were the answer. If you see something blue, green, yellow or pink bobbing down the road, it is going to catch your eye," said Conover, explaining that in addition to candy, she gives each trick-or-treater a glow stick to "Help Jayden Light the Way."
But with everything that's going on, Conover almost skipped out on the tradition.
"This year, because of the storm that we had, we weren't going to do it because our house is going to be under repair," she said. "Because of the damage to our home, we didn't feel we could go further."
That's when Conover's friends and neighbors jumped into action.
What are the odds? The one time a Layton mom almost skipped a yearly #Halloween tradition-in memory of her son- a chance encounter led her to say, "I truly believe Jayden had his hand in it..." Story at 6 @KSL5TV (p.s. I suggest having a tissue handy.) #HelpJaydenLighttheWaypic.twitter.com/CP3wA9k2Wa— Garna Mejia KSL (@GarnaMejiaKSL) October 16, 2020
"My neighbors showed up on my front porch and said, 'Absolutely not. You have to do Help Jayden Light the Way,'" she said.
Everyone showed up with decorations, even adding a large banner explaining the purpose of the glow sticks in honor of Jayden lighting the way at the entrance of their cul-de-sac.
In a twist of fate, it caught Lewis Weaver's attention.
Weaver lives in Plain City and happened to be in the neighborhood to look at a home for his job as a realtor. His kids noticed the decoration near the sign and asked their dad to drive over.
"I started reading it. I was like, I almost think … I think his name was Jayden and I was on that call, but I was in Uintah, not Layton," he said.
Turns out, Lewis was one of the firefighters that answered the call the night Jayden was struck.
Weaver never had a chance to meet Conover, who since moved to Layton, but Jayden's memory stuck with him, even after he retired as a firefighter.
"The images you see kind of stick with you forever," said Weaver. "The thoughts went through my head of, 'It's his last Halloween. He is somebody's family out there. They don't even have the news yet.'"
"His was probably the last face my son saw, and I couldn't have asked for a better person for my son," said Conover. "I think [Weaver's] actions bought me time to say goodbye."
Jayden was taken off life support on Thanksgiving, a few weeks after the crash.
After all these years, the chance encounter has inspired Lewis to share Jayden's message with his neighborhood.
"I've only been in this neighborhood maybe once in my life, so what are the odds?" Weaver said. "I realized this was probably meant to be. I was probably supposed to drive by here and see that sign and talk to her."
Weaver said he's planning on handing out glow sticks, along with candy, to trick-or-treaters in memory of Jayden.
"It's been good for me, too, because it comes full circle, and I can think about it and not have that void there," he said.
"I truly believe that Jayden had his hand in it and said, 'Mom, you have to keep going. You can't stop," said Conover.
Crystal's cul-de-sac, located at 1019 East and 260 South in Layton, is planning a COVID-safe truck or treat event for trick-or-treaters this Halloween.