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Palm Harbor mother thanks community for support after son's tragic drowning death

Posted at 3:13 AM, Jul 24, 2017

A Palm Harbor mom is leaning on community support after her 2-year-old son drowned in a neighbor's pool nearly two weeks ago.

"It's horrendous. I don't even want to think about it," said Rachelle Kibitlewski.

Rachel says she misses her son Robert every day. She is trying to remember the good times after her son's death.

"There's nothing you can do to take the pain away, there's nothing. Nothing," said Kibitlewski.

RELATED | 2-year-old Palm Harbor boy drowns in neighbor's pool

Robert's father was killed in a motorcycle crash just months before he was born. Kibitlewski believes they are now meeting in heaven for the first time. She says her son was full of life and loved his family.

She says he was a big baseball fan and could not resist cookies from Starbucks. She used to work at Starbucks and took him there a lot.

"It was either purple or orange," she said smiling, mimicking how he said the word. "Yeah they had to have an octopus cookie. Robert loved it."

Barista's at the Palm Harbor store knew him well.

"When I heard the news I was floored," said Natalie Hunt, Store manager at Coral Landings Starbucks. "I knew Robert since he was born he was in here almost every day and to think about having to say goodbye to your baby it's really... it's the hardest thing that anybody would have to do."

Sunday, baristas took out the sponges and brushes and cleaned as many cars they could to raise money for Rachelle and her family for funeral expenses.

"They're family. Everybody here is family," Hunt said.

Rachelle is also trying to stay strong for her 7-month-old son Elijah. She has message to other parents.

"Hold your babies tighter today. Give them an extra hug and just love them a little tighter today. Just do that for us for Robert," said Kibitlewski.

The family started a GoFundMe page where you can donate in case you missed the fundraiser.