More than 200 people attended a celebration of life service for the son of a Washougal police officer who died at the age of 6 after fighting two types of cancer.
Family members and friends of Declan Reagan from around the United States, as well as people who became familiar with him at events in Washougal and Vancouver and through his “Declan the Dinosaur” Facebook page, attended the child-friendly service Saturday, June 9, at Northwest Gospel Church in Vancouver.
Declan’s father, WPD Officer Francis Reagan, and mother, Lauren Reagan, as well as many of the people at the service, wore blue, Declan’s favorite color.
Declan’s twin brother, Adrian, wore a shirt with a blue dinosaur pattern, and he held a dinosaur toy before taking a seat.
Nathan Noorlun, executive pastor of Northwest Gospel Church, called the celebration of life, “Declan’s Heaven Party,” and then requested the attendees observe a moment of silence.
Renee Eames, a friend of the Reagan family, described her son, Blake, and Declan as “battle buddies,” since they met while fighting cancer at The Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, in Portland. Blake is now cancer-free.
Eames said Declan lived a life of fantasy, wonder and excitement, and he demonstrated perseverance.
Adrian’s teacher, Natalie Hascall, shared some thoughts on Adrian’s behalf. Adrian told her his favorite memories with his brother included dressing up in dinosaur and monster costumes and wrestling.
Adrian told his teacher he enjoyed going on trips with Declan and their mother and father, including the time they spent in Hawaii, courtesy of the Make a Wish Oregon program, in February 2018. They floated on a lazy river at Aulani, a Disney resort in Ko Olina, and they visited the movie sets of “Jurassic World” and its upcoming sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
Adrian and Declan’s cousin, Mackenzie Romilly, said Declan’s smile was contagious, and she described his life as a book that came to a premature end.
Lauren Binney, a friend of the Reagan family, described Declan’s laughter as infectious.
During the celebration of life, Lauren Reagan talked about how Declan exceeded his doctors’ expectations by living for five months this year, instead of two weeks. He died May 25.
Lauren Reagan recalled Declan telling her in mid-May that he just wanted to feel good and not feel sick anymore.
“He is so at peace now,” she said.
Declan the Dinosaur, a nonprofit that raises awareness for pediatric cancer and supports the affected families, will continue her son’s legacy, she added.
Lauren Reagan encouraged the celebration of life attendees to pick up random acts of kindness cards that were in the church lobby and share moments of generosity. The cards included a photo of Declan, the Declan the Dinosaur website, www.acco.org/declan, and the words, “Please pay it forward.”
Lauren Reagan also invited attendees to enjoy cupcakes that were available after the service. She explained that several times Declan did not eat for hours before medical procedures, and he absolutely loved eating cupcakes after the procedures.
Lauren Reagan said Declan had her stubbornness and the fighting spirit of his Navy Seal father.
Declan had bonded with a therapy dog while in the hospital, so his mother asked volunteers with Columbia River Pet Partners to bring their therapy dogs to the celebration of life.
Auburn, Washington Police Officer Fernando Cordova, surprised Francis Reagan by attending the celebration of life. Reagan and Cordovo attended the Basic Law Enforcement Academy, in Burien, Washington, in 2015.
Camas police officers responded to calls in Washougal, so that WPD officers could attend the service.
“I am super appreciative of law enforcement,” Francis Reagan said, after the service. “They’ve been supportive for two years.”
“There are not enough good things to say about the community’s outpouring of assistance,” he added. “Some of it has been visible, and some of it has been under the radar.”
Washougal Mayor Molly Coston and Washougal City Administrator David Scott also attended the celebration of life.
“It’s just nice to have folks in your corner,” Francis Reagan said.
A staff member and an announcer from the Harlem Wizards flew in from New York to attend Declan’s celebration of life. The traveling basketball performing group signed Declan and Adrian, to the team in April.
After the celebration of life, Adrian sat with Chris Miranda, who had traveled from New Jersey to attend the service for Declan.
Adrian’s middle name, Denis, is in honor of one of Miranda’s sons, Navy Seal Denis Miranda, who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in September 2010. Francis Reagan escorted Denis Miranda’s coffin from the crash site to a Navy base.
Chris Miranda’s other sons, Alan Miranda, of North Carolina, and Kevin Miranda, of New Jersey, also traveled to Vancouver to attend Declan’s celebration of life.
“Family is most important,” Chris Miranda said.
“They were more than friends,” he added, regarding Francis and Denis. “There was a very close brotherhood. The bond is huge.”