'So devastating': Loved ones mourn Wake Forest child killed by brain-eating amoeba

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Doves were seen flying in downtown Wake Forest in memory of Aven Moffat -- a little boy who died weeks after contracting a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a pond.

His family, neighbors, and the community are in disbelief.

"I think today was a way for people to show up to support them," said Pastor Justin Morgan, He led the memorial service at E. Carroll Joyner Community Park where folks gathered to grieve.

This week, the North Carolina health department confirmed through lab tests little Aven succumbed to the illness, which is usually caused when the amoeba enters a person's nose while swimming in warm bodies of water like lakes, rivers and ponds.

Experts say it's best to limit the amount of water going into your nostrils. Early signs of infection can include headache, vomiting and fever.

According to the CDC, the disease is extremely rare. Between 1962 and 2019, only 148 cases were reported in the U.S -- six of those cases were from North Carolina.

Two years ago, Eddie Gray died from a similar infection at Fantasy Lake Water Park in Cumberland County.

"So devastating the odds of this," said Morgan. "They don't want this to happen to anybody else."

As the community questions why this happened, the Moffat family is turning their pain into purpose-raising nearly $200,000 bringing awareness and hopefully prevention and a cure.

The family wrote in a GoFundMe post:

Imagine... the sweetest little boy that lit up every room with his smile and laughter, silly jokes, tight hugs, beautiful white hair, imaginary friends, lego masterpieces, fishing stories, love of learning, and so much more.

Imagine... a terrible disease taking this sweet boy from his loving family, with barely a warning.

Now, imagine that we can come together and do something to help prevent future tragedies like this.

"Today's been a reminder for us that although we'll never fully answer some of those questions, we are confident in our faith-that continues to affirm for us that God is with us," said Morgan. "That God mourns the loss of Aven today as much, or more than this community does. We take peace knowing that."
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