A little boy, who touched the lives of many in Jackson County and beyond, recently passed away.
R.J. Holcomb, 22 months old, died on Jan. 31 at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham while awaiting a heart transplant.
Lt. Craig Holcomb, a deputy of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, loves to tell the story of his little boy, a little fighter who inspired a community.
Craig, who has seen his share of heartbreak and sadness in his line of work during his career, masks his hurt with a pride for his little warrior, who fought from the day he was born.
R.J. was born on March 8, 2018 at Highlands Medical Center in Scottsboro. Craig and his wife, Michelle, were so happy welcoming their baby boy.
“We had no idea anything was wrong,” remembers Craig. “He came out appearing to be a healthy baby boy.”
In a matter of moments, though, it changed. Within hours, R.J. went to Huntsville Hospital and then to Children’s in Birmingham.
“He wound up living 22 months,” said Craig. “He wasn’t expected to live through the next morning after he was born. That shows the power of God’s Will He had for him.”
R.J. was born with a heart condition, to put in simple words. In his 22 months, he had three heart surgeries.
Craig said his son was put on a heart transplant 1A list on Jan. 10, 11 days before he passed away.
When you met R.J., you would never know anything was wrong, his dad said.
“He could light up a room,” said Craig. “He hardly ever cried.”
No matter how dire the situation, the kid just wanted to play. When he began walking, he wanted to be with his big brother and big sister.
“He was always outperforming the doctors’ expectations,” said Craig.
After he passed away and was brought to Scottsboro Funeral Home, a line of blue lights, police cars from everywhere, escorted him home.
“When he got to the funeral home, everyone was standing outside their cars paying respects,” said Craig.
Craig said Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and Guntersville Police Department led R.J. back to Scottsboro, where the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Scottsboro Police Department and Hollywood Police Department waited.
“It was just an outpouring of support,” said Craig. “Our family will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude. It’s just been an overwhelming support in the county from people that just wanted to help.”
The help continues. On Feb. 14, a silent auction will be held at the Jackson County Courthouse. On May 2, a motorcycle ride, named “Riding for R.J.” will be held. Also in May, a 5K run, named “Running for R.J.” is planned.
The Holcomb family plans to take all money raised from the events and make a donation to the cardiovascular unit at Children’s of Alabama.
For now, though, the family is dealing with the loss of their little man.
“By the Grace of God, we’re doing as well as we are,” said Craig. “There are good moments and bad.”
But Craig and Michelle take solace in knowing their son touched so many lives and is in a better place.
“He enjoyed life,” smiles Craig.