For most of his short life, home to Matthew “Tater Tot” Snodgrass was UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, after being diagnosed with leukemia in April 2019.
The blond-haired little boy, who would have turned 3 on May 10, lost his battle with his disease on April 30.
For Tiffany Thompson McKenzie, Matthew’s death is especially poignant and heartbreaking because, as a pediatric oncology nurse at UF Shands, she was his first nurse after he was diagnosed.
“He was the most resilient, energetic, and joyful little boy,” she said.
McKenzie and Matthew’s dad, Matt Snodgrass, have been a couple since last year.
“I’ve been extremely close with Matthew since he was 11 months old. It’s a very special bond,” she said.
On May 1, McKenzie wrote on her Facebook page: “Yesterday, at 4:15 he took his last breath while in my arms and his daddy nearby. He knew how loved he was, and he was surrounded by the people who loved him most."
Matthew's mother, Megan Snodgrass, said she will always remember her son's infectious smile.
"It lit up the room," she said. "He loved everybody. He was my baby."
Matthew loved dressing up as a pirate, sword and all, loved racecars, “Paw Patrol” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Disney’s “Toy Story,” making cars and trucks sounds, playing “kitchen and cooking” with his sister Brooke, eating fried shrimp and Cheetos or anything that made a mess.
He was outgoing, sweet-natured — and very busy. He would greet people at the door with a big smile and a handshake.
He loved fishing and would tie a lure onto a pole and pretend he was fishing in the pool. He would pretend his lure was a fish and practiced casting and reeling.
He had a cat named Hoppy and called her Meow.
In February, Tater Tot had the best day ever, a family vacation to Disney World, a gift from family friends.
When they came back, Matt Snodgrass told the Chronicle, “Being his dad has really humbled me as a person,” adding, “The outreach and support from the community has completely humbled me.”
A celebration of life for Matthew Snodgrass is at 7 p.m., Friday, May 7, at Seven Rivers Church, 4221 W. Gulf-to-Lake Hwy., Lecanto.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of Roberts Funeral Home of Dunnellon, 19939 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Dunnellon, FL 34432.