ERDA, Utah (ABC4) — Family, friends, and the Tooele County community are coming together to celebrate the life of 8-year-old Dallin Cunningham. The third grader died Tuesday night after falling off a slide at Rose Springs Elementary School the day before.
Stansbury Park resident Camey Sant told ABC4 that her entire family, especially her kid who attended the same school as Cunningham, is saddened by the accident.
“My kindergartner said, ‘Mom, that’s really sad,’ and I think that sums it up,” Sant said.
While this is a tragedy, the community is looking to share the joy Cunningham often brought to others.
“I just felt like we needed to celebrate him too,” Sant said.
To celebrate Cunningham, families showed up at Rose Springs Elementary Wednesday evening to tie green and yellow ribbons to the trees across campus to commemorate the boy’s life.
Sant does not know the Cunningham family personally, but she felt the need to get involved and help the family. She started a Venmo account and within a few hours, people donated more than $2,000. She also shared Cunningham’s mother’s Venmo on her social media accounts for people to make donations.
Community members also started donating goodies for the family. Along with the money donated, Sant is collecting all the physical donations and putting them into a care package, which she plans to deliver to the family on Monday.
“We’re so sorry,” Sant said when asked what message she wants the Cunnigham family to hear. “And that we love them. Everyone is heartbroken over this.”
“I think this community is amazing for stepping up and wanting to share his life,” said Katrina Orr, a spokesperson for the Cunningham family as they mourn.
Orr explained that the Cunninghams moved to Utah during the pandemic to be closer to their family after a series of losses. They lived with the Orrs for a time.
“Sometimes he’d literally grab your face, and he’d tell you a funny joke, and then he’d run off,” Orr said. “He was the type of kid where he’d do all kinds of crazy stuff, but then he’d stop for a minute, and he’d really touch your heartstrings.”
In a statement to ABC4, Cunningham’s dad, Tim, backs that up saying:
Dallin is the perfect, imperfect eight-year-old little boy. Sometimes teasing, sometimes antagonizing, but always in love for his three sisters, his mommy, and daddy.
He loves playing board games and card games like Sushi Go!, Throw Throw Burrito, Uno, and many more. When he doesn’t have access to video games, he will pull out a complex puzzle to work on. He enjoys reading and just finished all the How to Train Your Dragon books. He loves learning Portuguese and practicing with his daddy at home. He loves playing soccer, or futebol as it should be called. He is the most friendly and outgoing of our little Cunningham clan, easily making friends of all ages, wherever we have gone as a military, then student, and now regular working family. He loves to turn around in the pews at church, waggling his eyebrows at anyone who catches his gaze. He is as flexible as his daddy was as a child, astounding people with his Gumby-like ambulation.
Our sweet eight-year-old son, Dallin Cunningham passed away peacefully Tuesday, February 7, 2023, surrounded by family. This came after falling from a slide at school Monday morning. We are heartbroken. We will miss his smiles, jokes, and his amazing mind. We are grateful for the Plan of Salvation and the knowledge of eternal families. We know that we will be together again. Thank you everyone who has kept us in your thoughts and prayers.
In the wake of his passing, Dallin’s eight-year-old cousin wrote the following: “My name is Grant and one of the many memorable moments that I have had with Dallin Cunningham was when we played Minecraft dungeons on the TV. He is very creative, smart, nice and my best friend and there is not anyone like him. He will be missed dearly, and Heavenly Father will watch over him.”
Community member Jennifer Strieker wrote: “There are no words to describe how we are feeling today as a community. My family and friends have shed a lot of tears over this incident, not knowing the family or the little man personally. The silver lining in a tragedy like this is the love and kindness we have for each other in Stansbury Park and Tooele County. Our community will do everything to help all parties involved, especially the family of that little man, feel loved and supported in every way that we can. We cannot change what happened, but we certainly can reach out and help those that are struggling right now.”
Dallin’s aunt Rachel penned: “A lifetime of memories would have done nothing to ease the pain of losing Dallin, but to lose him at such a young age is a true tragedy. He had the intelligence and personality to live a truly impactful life. His death is a loss not only to those who knew him but to those who never got to.”
The outpouring of love doesn’t surprise Orr because of the kind of people the Cunningham family is.
“If they thought giving you the shirt off their back would make you laugh or would bring you comfort or something, they’d do it in a heartbeat,” she said. “These are just some of the best people you will ever meet.”
Orr said that love for others was a trait Cunningham inherited. While living with the Orrs, Cunningham wrote a letter to Orr unprompted that goes, “I love you so much and thank you for all you’ve done.”
Orr told ABC4 the family plans on living more, laughing more, having as much fun as possible, and making the best of every situation because that’s what Dallin would want them to do. She has set up a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs.