Year one of Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation is under our belts. I first announced it on social media on April 11, 2017. When I thought of the idea to start a foundation as a tribute to Ben, I wasn’t really sure how it would go – I just knew I wanted to be able to remember him, share him with others and offer support/gifts to families that are like ours was – all in Ben’s name.
We had a pretty successful first year:
- We gave toy gifts to 16 children through our partnerships with St Charles schools, Easter Seals and Marianjoy.
- We made donations to Chapelstreet Church Masterpiece Ministries.
- We assembled gift bags for kids in the PICU at Central Dupage Hospital.
- We sponsored a Toy Adapting Event with Kmart and Easter Seals where we gave toys to 8 children. And we participated in one other Adapt-a-Toy event through Marianjoy.
- We prepared dinner for families staying at Ronald McDonald House in Chicago.
- We had a pretty successful 1st Annual Bowl-A-Thon Event where St Charles Bowl was packed.
- AND .. I found a publisher that wanted to work with me to develop “Ben’s Adventures” children’s book, where a portion of sales will support Ben Smiles. It officially releases late May but is currently available for pre-order here: www.Bens-Adventures.com
The foundation and the book have given me a new purpose. My identity as his mom was to care for him and give him the best life possible. When he was now gone, what did that mean for me? Well, I have found a new purpose. I am driven to continue this work. I want to reach way more kids through the foundation. I want to still talk about him, show his photos and share his memories.
Thank you to those that have donated. Thank you to those that have offered support and kind comments. Thank you to all who have attended our events. Be well.