JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville mother is sharing her pain and also her gratitude to a nonprofit organization that helps families pay for funerals of children they've lost.
Kimmy Littlejohn-Clark and her husband were so excited to have their first child. She and her husband decided to name their son Chancz.
"I had prayed because I always knew that I would be a wife and a mother, and I just said, 'Lord, give me one baby, just one, just one,'" Littlejohn-Clark said.
When she was pregnant, her doctor told them the baby was not growing as fast as he should, but she said she had faith her son would be fine.
"The day after he was born, I found out that he had Trisomy 18, and my whole world changed," Littlejohn-Clark said. "I had never heard of Trisomy 18."
Chancz had a rare, deadly chromosomal defect. He would not survive.
"You know, you hear about stories every day about babies dying. But I'm like, 'Not mine. God's going to let him live,'" Littlejohn-Clark said. "And I prayed for healing. So when they tried the CPAC for the last time and his body just went limp, I'm like, 'OK, Lord I get it, but if he has to go, let me rock him to you.' And I was able to do that."
Chancz lived 43 days at the hospital. During a visit from a social worker, Littlejohn-Clark said she learned about Angels for Allison. The nonprofit organization helps families in need pay for the funerals of children they lose.
"They just jumped right in, no questions asked," said Littlejohn-Clark, who was so distraught she couldn't imagine how she and her husband would plan their son's funeral, let alone pay for it. "Once they get involved, there's really not much work for you to do because you're grieving. So I guess they figure they do it all. I didn't. I don't remember having to do anything except bring him clothes to the funeral home."
Angels for Allison was started in 2009 by Drew Haramis. Her daughter Allison was a passenger in a car that crashed on the Buckman Bridge. Allison was coming home from Episcopal School of Jacksonville at the end of the school day when the car she was traveling in hit another car. Her mother recognized a need in the community for families who never expect to have to bury their child, to pay for their funeral.
Haramis started by selling painted angel figures to raise money to donate to families. Now she sells shirts, ties, hair barrettes and more that have the Angels for Allison monogram on them.
Littlejohn-Clark said she is so grateful for Angels for Allison. Her last memories of her child are about how she rocked him to sleep and not about struggling to pay to bury him.
"I'm just so glad I was there to do that (rock him to sleep) even though he was a baby," she said. "I just feel nobody wants to die alone."
Angels for Allison has helped 54 families. It is holding its biggest fundraiser Thursday at The Brick in Avondale from 5-8 p.m.
Hand-painted angels designed by local artists will be auctioned off. The event is open to the public. You can bid online too by going to AngelsForAllison.org.
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