KATY (Covering Katy News) – Faith, love and community support are what’s holding a tight-knit Katy family together following the death of their 3-year-old boy from an accidental gunshot wound last Friday night in Firethorne.
“Radyn had a good life, way better childhood than I ever had, and that’s what I wanted for him. He was loved,” said the boy’s father Rico Terrell.
At times Rico, 23, struggled to contain his emotions as he remembered his first born child. Family members say Radyn could light up a room of children and adults.
Rico’s rock is his Christian faith, his wife Rudi, and his in-laws – Paula and Rudy Mancinas.
Nothing can explain how a 3-year-old could find his way to the top of a five foot dresser and locate a gun. Radyn was supposed to be sleeping. Rico was downstairs repairing a broken custom-made gate designed to keep his kids safe from the staircase. Earlier that night he’d cooked Radyn his favorite meal for dinner, pancakes and eggs, then tucked the little boy in for the night. At some point Radyn woke up and wandered into another bedroom. Nobody knew until it was too late.
Radyn’s mother Rudi, 21, had spent the whole day with her son, even videotaping their adventures. She had no idea it was her last day with him.
“We had a beautiful last day together,” she said. “I had just bought a camera a week or two ago and I recorded the whole day beginning with him waking up.”
The night before Radyn had wiggled his way into bed with his parents. They did not know he was with them until the next morning.
“When he woke up he asked me if I could take him to see ‘Toy Story 4,’” Rudi said.
So she took him to an early showing of the newly released popular film.
“He ate his popcorn and was laughing during the whole movie. Then we went to eat Chinese food. His favorite thing was white rice with soy sauce and crispy noodles.”
Rudi said Radyn loved Chinese food but would never eat meat.
“He loved animals so he would never eat meat. If you tried to sneak it to him he would spit it out so fast and be mad,” Rudi said.
That night she went to Houston to hear a speaker at Lakewood Church. Radyn stayed home with his father and a brother. The family says Rico is a hands-on dad. He stayed home with his boys. In addition to Radyn, the couple has 18-month-old Rocky and 9-month-old Renzo.
“Unfortunately an accident occurred and we want people to be aware that unfortunate things happen to good people,” said grandmother Paula Mancinas.
“What we really want people to understand is that Radyn had excellent parents,” said Paula. “Rico was the most excellent father that most people have laid eyes on. He loves his sons. He did everything with his sons.”
Paula and her husband Rudy remain a very large part of their children and grandchildren’s life. Both of their daughters live with them along with the kids and Rico. Radyn was not only the first grandchild, but the first boy in the family.
“We bought a brand new home a month before he (Radyn) was born so that we would have room, and they would have their own space upstairs. We call it apartment B,” Paula said.
They are a very tight-knit family. They all work at the family business, Redeemed Trucking. They go to work together, eat together, vacation together and worship together.
“A three stranded chord is hard to break,” Paula said. It is a biblical reference, Ecclesiastes 4:12, about a chord being stronger when it has three strands of twine instead of one or two strands.
“I am heartbroken and hurt, but I am at peace knowing that Radyn is with Jesus now,” Rudi said about her son. “He’s living his best life. That helps me to keep moving forward and to be strong. He’s not in pain anymore. The world will never be able to hurt him. He’s comfortable always. I know this is not a goodbye. We’ll see him soon,” she said.
Rico and Rudi are high school sweethearts. They met at Katy High School. They are thankful for the three years they had with Radyn. He was special in many ways, primarily for the exceptional faith he had that Jesus was his savior.
“He would carry a Bible that I had,” Paula said. “He would talk about having Jesus in his heart,” she added. “I don’t know why but he just grasped, from a young age, that Jesus was in his heart and he just knew it.”
In memory of Radyn, the family has posted a video of their 3-year-old son talking about having Jesus in his heart. It has been seen by people all over the world. The video has gone viral.
“People from all walks of life have messaged me saying that they have never prayed before or believed in God, but because of Radyn they prayed for the first time and they have felt a connection with God and that makes us very happy,” Rudi said. “If that’s what Radyn was here for, to help those people, we’re thankful for that.”
Rudi and Rico say they are thankful for the impact Radyn has had on the world.
“In his passing Radyn has touched so many lives, more than we could have ever hoped for,” Paula said.
“People from all walks of life are talking about Jesus,” said Rico. “Thousands of people from all over the world are sharing his video.”
“We did our best to give him everything that we could and we tried our best to protect him at all costs, but nobody can change what God has already planned beforehand,” Rudi said.
Friends wanted to do something to support the family so they designed and are selling a tee-shirt in his honor. It’s all done under the banner of #LiveLikeRadyn. Funds raised from the sale of the shirts will be donated to the Eddie Eagle Children’s Gun Safety Program.
Radyn was only 4 pounds when he was born at 33 weeks.
“He was a miracle baby from the beginning,” grandfather Rudy said.
His lungs were not developed, but he was breathing on his own, and he fought, his mother Rudi recalled. His parents never left the hospital, spending Christmas and New Year’s by his side, three and a half years ago.
“The way he entered the world is the way he exited the world,” said Paula. “A room full of people just waiting and hoping and wishing that we would get a miracle. We did get our miracle, not in the way we saw fit to get our miracle, but in that he became whole and well in paradise,” Paula said.
The family traveled with Radyn. In his three years he’s been to Paris, Hawaii, California, Disney World, and North Carolina, to name just a few locations. His grandfather Rudy is a car collector and would take him on trips to pick up vehicles.
“We’d travel. When I would buy cars he would come with us to pick them up. He was a car fanatic,” his grandfather said.
Rudy has a blue Porsche 993 that he planned to give Radyn when he was old enough to drive. Blue was Radyn’s favorite color.
It is the family’s Christian faith that’s holding them together.
“I know where he is right now. If I did not know that I’d be crazy right now,” said Rudi. “I have peace that he is there (heaven).”
“We don’t want the enemy to be glorified by the tragedy. We don’t want to focus on the tragedy, the accident,” said Paula. “What the enemy meant for evil, God always turns it around for his glory, his good. We want to focus on the good and that’s why we want to share our story of Radyn.”
The family hopes to establish a nonprofit in Radyn’s memory. It would focus on children’s safety.
“We want people to learn about safety … whether it be an accident in a pool or an accident with a gun or an accident with a child opening a front door and wandering out into the street,” Rudi said.
Paula knows that having her young adult children living with her is not looked on favorably by some, but she has no regrets because now they are together to support each other in this difficult time.
“I’m glad that we did not do things the way the world does,” Paula says.
The family has several rooms at a Katy area hotel right now. Time away from the house, they felt, would be a good thing. Despite all that’s happened they’ve decided to go back to their Firethorne residence rather than move to a new location.
“We’re going to heal and we are going to move forward,” Paula said. The Katy community has extended themselves in such a way that we belong here. We belong in our neighborhood. We brought Radyn to that home and we experienced all the firsts with Radyn at that home and we’re not going to allow one memory to erase all the rest of the good stuff that happened there.”
Moving back may not be easy, but Radyn’s grandfather says it will be possible.
“Through God all good things are possible,” Rudy said.