ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Friends and strangers gathered side by side Monday night, offering support and prayers for 20-month-old Luke Leavengood, found unconscious in his Northeast St. Petersburg neighborhood after falling into a swimming pool next to his home Nov. 8.
The accident happened while Luke and his twin sister were being watched by a family nanny.
"My wife is up with Luke on the fifth floor at All Children's and she has a candle lit with him," said Luke's father Ian during a tearful address to nearly 100 people who gathered at All Children's Garden of Hope.
"We are paying the prayer that brought [Luke] and his sister into this world: Luke 18.1, and that is to always pray and to never give up hope."
The family has not released much information on Luke's condition, only to say doctors are trying an experimental therapy, giving Luke a sleeping drug called Zolpidem, found in rare cases to reactivate the brain after severe brain trauma.
"That's what's so important to the family right now, is hope and just to see the outpouring of their friends, their family, and even people they don't know, turning out and standing with them through this very difficult situation," said Ann Miller of All Children's Hospital. "That's very impactful."
"After this week of tragedy I now understand more what peace means," said Ian Leavengood, quoting a message from his wife Robin. "Peace is not joy. It is the absence of fear, the absence of panic and the absence of evil. It is the spirit that washes over us when we need it most."
The Leavengood family says they are blown away by how many who showed up Monday night in support of their son.
"There are many familiar faces but I have been touched, and Robin has been touched by the presence of people we have never met. From the bottom of our hearts we cannot thank you enough."
Beau Zimmer, 10 News