A parade of more than 30 tough-guy bikers escorted an Idaho mom to her son’s funeral when she was feeling less like her toughest self.
Aubrey Ashley, a mom of 2 from Idaho Falls, watched her eldest son Teegan Keith Sakaguchi die in her arms last week after a battle with a lifelong disease.
Teegan, 14, was diagnosed shortly after his birth with propionic acidemia, a metabolic disorder that caused him to lack certain enzymes to digest proteins. While his mom said he was energetic up until the final few hours of his life, she knew he would not live to see his later years.
“We just woke up and he was having a hard time [breathing] and he passed away here at home,” she told InsideEdition.com. “It was just his time.”
When it came time to attend his funeral, local biker groups including The Litas Idaho Falls, Bikers for Christ and the Grand Teton HOG Chapter paraded behind her car on the way to the funeral, supporting her through her grief.
“A lot of people in the community knew him,” she explained. “[Teegan] always had a love for bikes, and I’m sure to feel that wind in your hair would be the best feeling for him. He was kind of a wild child, so I’m sure it was just nice to hear that roar for him. I couldn’t have asked for a better honor.”
Ashley said she and her ex-husband — Teegan’s dad — started working at Harley-Davidson in 2005. He continues to be a motorcycle mechanic at an Arizona dealership, while she eventually quit to take care of Teegan full time.
She explained Teegan had been perfectly healthy in utero and at birth, until he was about a month old when “he stared becoming more lethargic and not tolerating foods well.”
When doctors had a formal diagnosis much later, they determined he was neurologically delayed because the breast milk he was fed had more protein than his body could handle, causing brain damage.
He also grew up confined to a wheelchair, since the lack of protein made him weaker.
“So many times in his life when he would dip down really low and become very ill and he would just come back with a big smile on his face and he touched so many peoples’ hearts,” Ashley said. “He’s was just such a light in this world and just such a fighter.”
Ten years later, when Ashley gave birth to Cohen, now 4, they discovered he had the same condition.
Little did Teegan know, the studies and conferences he agreed to participate in would pave the way for new medicine for his younger brother.
Thanks to research doctors conducted based on Teegan’s case, Cohen was able to get a liver transplant when he was just 9 months old. He now lives a much less medically complicated life than Teegan did.
“I’m just happy that he’ll live on and be the strength to us and even after death, he’s going to beautifully continue on and I’m proud of that,” Ashley said.