BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Hours before Louisiana sports reporter Carley McCord died in a Dec. 28 plane crash, she posted a hopeful message to Instagram that would guide her loved ones through the months ahead.
“Only rainbows after rain. The sun will always come again.”
The words, which come from a popular Andy Grammer song, “Keep Your Head Up,” have inspired a children’s clothing line called Carley’s Little Rainbows.
McCord’s sister launched the collection this summer to raise money for the family of Matt Moscona, another Baton Rouge sports reporter who served as a mentor and friend to McCord.
“She would have loved this,” said Kaleigh McCord Pedersen. “My sister told me, personally, that she wanted this. I think she would be elated to see it actually happen.”
McCord, 30, was one of five people killed when a small plane crashed in Lafayette soon after taking off from a regional airport. The aircraft was en route to Atlanta for a college playoff game between LSU and Oklahoma.
Pedersen said her sister mentioned last year wanting to raise money for the Moscona family. At the time, the sisters were prepping orders for Little Louanne, Pedersen’s clothing company for children.
After the plane crash, Pedersen’s customers asked her if Little Louanne would be selling any special collections to raise money for McCord’s scholarship fund at her alma mater, Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. A children’s clothing line didn’t seem like the right way to fund a college scholarship, Pedersen said. Besides, the scholarship had taken off on its own; about $100,000 has been raised in McCord’s name so far.
Instead, Pedersen thought back to McCord’s desire to help a little boy.
Moscona’s son, Drew, was born with a rare genetic disorder that comes with costly medical treatments. Drew has undergone eight surgeries before his sixth birthday, which he’ll celebrate later this month. He’s on 30 different medications and attends therapy six times per week.
Carley’s Little Rainbows, a line of rainbow-inspired clothing for babies and children, has raised about $4,000 for the Drew Moscona Fund.
Moscona plans to put the money toward tuition at St. Lillian Academy, a Baton Rouge school that specializes in children with communication and learning challenges. Drew is set to begin school there in the fall.
“The financial assistance is obviously amazing and will help us,” Moscona said. “But to me, to have something that connects Drew to Carley is even more special. Carley was an amazing person, one of a kind. She did more in 30 years than most people will do in a lifetime. I know we miss her every day, and I know the McCords do as well, and to be able to do anything that will honor your friend is moving, and you’re grateful for it, but when it happens in tandem to help your child, it’s hard to put into words.
“How do you find the words to adequately say thank you? It’s hard to express the sincerity.”
Moscona has often thought back to one moment in the months since McCord died.
It was February 2015, and he’d just returned to his Baton Rouge radio station after spending nine months in a Texas hospital with his family. Moscona wheeled Drew into the office in a stroller, tubes and wires in place, to meet the team.
McCord didn’t miss a beat.
“She just popped out of her chair and scooped him up,” Moscona said. “And I was like, ‘Hold up! Don’t pull the oxygen tube out!’ But it was so her. She was so fearless and loving and her essence was just exuded onto him in that moment, even though he looked like the bionic kid. Many people would have been really intimidated by that.”
Moscona said that memory will forever be emblazoned in his brain.
McCord, like so many, had followed Drew’s journey through listening to Moscona’s afternoon radio show, “After Further Review,” which he managed to continue hosting from a Houston studio during his time at Texas Children’s Hospital.
After Moscona returned home, he remembers friends, family, fans and strangers telling him time and time again that Drew belonged not only to he and his wife, Erika, but also to Baton Rouge.
“I didn’t understand it at the time, but I do now,” Moscona said. “This whole city embraced our child, provided emotional support, financial support, spiritual support — any way you can imagine someone lifting up a family, they did it. And that moment with Carley was kind of that idea personified.”
Pedersen is planning to create a new children’s collection each year to benefit another child in need.
The Moscona family will pick next year’s recipient. That family would then pay it forward to another family one year later.
Pedersen is also establishing a nonprofit called Carley’s Little Angels to continue more of her sister’s work going forward.
Pedersen said she knows the world didn’t revolve around her sister, but it sure feels like it sometimes. Last year ended with the worst news of her life, and this year started with McCord’s funeral service.
A pandemic and protests would follow soon after.
“It felt like the world stopped,” Pedersen said. “All sports stopped. She would have been devastated about that. She wouldn’t have been able to work all summer long. And with all of the other things going on, between the pandemic and the Black lives movement, she definitely would have been upset. It all would have just broken her heart.”
Through it all, her family continues to find comfort and guidance from McCord’s final Instagram post.
Grammer’s song continues on: “And it’s a circle, circling around again. It comes around again.”