SCOTT CITY, MO (KFVS) - It is not a stretch to say that Sara Hooper and her son Dominic grew up together.
After all, Sara was just 18 years old when she had her first and only child.
"I always told Dominic, I hope I'm you're friend and that you feel like you can come to me and talk about anything. But I was first and foremost his mom," Sara said.
As Dominic grew, he became a star athlete. He played basketball, baseball and football for Scott City High School. He worked so hard at sports that his mother often worried about him.
"I'd tell him that someday he would pay for all the abuse he put on his body. He would just laugh and tell me, you only live once mom," Sara remembered.
As good as Dominic was on the field, he was even better off of it. A kid who looked out for everyone. His coach, Jim May, said Dominic was the type of kid every parent hopes their child turns out to be. Dom's stepfather, Chris, said he fell in love with Dom the first time he met him.
"He was just a great kid," he said. "He'd do anything for anybody. All you had to do was ask. Even though I wasn't his real dad, I was his dad and Dominic treated me like his dad."
Three weeks ago, Dominic's ATV flipped and he hit his head. He would never regain consciousness. Two days later, doctors told Sara and Chris the devastating news, Dom had no brain activity. They asked if they would consider donating Dom's organs. Sara said she didn't hesitate. That even though she and Dom had never talked about the subject, she knew it was something he would want to do.
"That's just the kind of kid he was," Sara said. "He would want to help people if he could. He ended up helping five people."
Dominic's lungs, pancreas, kidneys, liver and heart went to five different people, one of them a seven-year-old girl.
"Dom loved kids," she said. "He loved kids so much. I know that he would be pleased that he could help them all but especially that seven year old. He would want to give her a chance."
Just about all of Scott City and much of surrounding communities turned out for Dom's visitation and funeral. A tragedy like this hits everyone hard, but especially those in a small town where it seems everyone is family.
In honor of Dom and his family, Scott City and neighboring towns have raised thousands of dollars for a scholarship that will be offered in Dom's name. To date, the total is more than $11,000. That's on top of the $5,000 they raised to help with Dominic's medical and funeral expenses.
The last thing Sara said to Dom that day as he raced off to join his friends for an afternoon of ATV riding, was, "be careful."
She said he usually was, that perhaps he wasn't wearing his helmet this one time because his ATV wasn't running and he was being towed. Whatever the reason, it doesn't change the reality that faces Sara and Chris every day. Their house is too quiet, the X-Box is going unused and Dom's room is just as he left it.
"I miss taking care of him," Sara said, choking up. "After doing it for 17 years I miss him asking me for chocolate chip pancakes or french toast."
Dom's life ended too soon, but she is sure he enjoyed every minute of it. Sara did too.