For the Independent
A nine-year-old Salyersville boy who touched and inspired the world through a debilitating disease has died.
Dalton Dingus succumbed to Cystic Fibrosis Saturday night at the Bluegrass Hospice Center in Hazard.
Dingus, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis five years ago, brought attention to the chronic disease and the more than 30,000 adults and children in the United States who live with it through a Christmas card campaign that shattered world records.
In one week alone in December, more than 200,000 cards were delivered to a local church near Salyersville, which was transformed to a production facility as community members opened and logged cards from all across the globe. The totals in one week alone shattered the previous record of 205,120 cards held by a Canadian man in 1990.
Dalton received more than 770,000 Christmas cards, and his mother, Jessica, said last month she has been in contact with Guinness World Records to officially apply for the record.
Despite wearing oxygen 24 hours a day, Dalton inspired hundreds of visitors at his rural Magoffin County home. The Kentucky State Police named Dalton an honorary trooper, and the North Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department named him an honorary member of their department.
“Dalton always wanted to be a state trooper and a fire fighter,” Jessica said. “He’s our trooper.”
On Sunday, hundreds of messages flooded Jessica and Dalton’s Facebook pages. Social media allowed Dalton’s story to expand far beyond the valleys of eastern Kentucky, and it also served as a pillar of support for his mother. His story also hit Hollywood as Blake Shelton, Dalton’s favorite artist, posted a video with his – and his wife, Miranda Lambert’s — well wishes.
Dalton’s journey far surpassed the expectations of the medical community. In November, doctors sent Dalton home with days to live. His death came nearly six weeks later.
On Saturday night, Jessica reached out to her Facebook friends: “My Dalton is breathing easy and I know he is running around playing and having a good time. He will welcome me home one day with open arms and we will never be departed again. I have a beautiful angel watching over me now. Breathe Easy my baby!”
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.