By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Pravyn Lance McBride-Meyer was remembered Thursday night as a smiling boy who loved Mickey Mouse.
The 2-year-old son of Whitney Meyer died of drowning Wednesday after being found in a home day care swimming pool the day before.
Hundreds turned out for a vigil at Clat Adams Park, gathering to show their support to a grieving family.
"It's going to take this whole community to help Whitney get over this, and she'll never get over it," Kathie Palmer, Meyer's boss, told the crowd.
Meyer took the microphone to talk briefly about her son's big brown eyes and bushel of curly hair before breaking down in tears.
"He was smiley," Meyer said. "I went to bed with him every night, changed his diaper, squeezed his thighs, tickled his toes."
Palmer led the crowd in the Lord's Prayer, then people raised their candles as the music resumed.
Susan Stout taught Meyer in pre-kindergarten and wanted to show her support for the family.
Pravyn "was just a beautiful little baby," Stout said. "When you're talking about a little one, children of any age just bring everybody together. It's kind of like they're your own."
Some in the crowd, including vigil organizer Alexis Willing, sported bright red "Team Pravyn 2012-2014" shirts featuring Mickey Mouse.
"He was always smiling. I'd never see that kid cry. He loved basketball. He loved Mickey Mouse," said Willing, a close friend of Meyer.
Molly Miller and Jamar Watson, friends of Meyer, sported T-shirts with Pravyn's photo and the words "We Love You Papa Bear" on the back. "Papa Bear" was a nickname for Pravyn.
Close family friend Gail Stovall said it was important for people to gather in Pravyn's memory.
"Whitney has so many loved ones and supporters and family that this was just another way of being able to let everyone take part in the loss of such an innocent soul," Stovall said.
The Adams County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of a near-drowning of a young child at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the home daycare operated by Patti Tipton at 2027 S. 39th.
Pravyn was taken by ambulance to Blessing Hospital, then transferred to St. Louis Children's Hospital, where he died at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Tipton, in a phone interview, said she voluntarily surrendered her state license and has stopped providing day care in her home.
Pravyn was one of the children under Tipton's care.
"I'm devastated," Tipton said.
Tipton said she had been in good standing with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services prior to Tuesday's incident.
The drowning remains under investigation.
Dorothy "Dottie" Morris remembers Meyer talking about her son Tuesday morning.
"She was telling me how she had the little boy dressed. He had new shoes, shorts and a red, white and blue shirt on," said Morris, who lives at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center where Meyer works as a CNA. "He came to my apartment on Easter Sunday. He was so cute. He was really cute."
Lance Meyer, Whitney Meyer's father, said the family was still struggling with the shock of Pravyn's death
"We're just very appreciative for everything that everybody's done the past two days. It's been overwhelming. The texts, emails, phone calls, visits. Those things have all helped us an awful lot to get through it," he said.
He held a candle in memory of his beloved grandson.
"He was your typical little boy. He loved to be outside. He smiled all the time," Lance Meyer said. "Me and him loved each other an awful lot."