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Dear Summer Scamper-ers,

We are honored that the Bereavement and Family Guidance Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford nominated our son, Christian, as this year’s Summer Scamper Patient Hero. Christian was cheerful, warm-hearted, expressive, helpful, and self-motivated. He was especially loving, caring, and thoughtful of his sister, Olivia. Whenever we were going somewhere or participating in an activity, he would say, “Wait for Olivia…”

While initially shy, Christian grew into a very affectionate and loving 5-year-old. He loved to give hugs. He was very compassionate towards others – especially Olivia, his mother, and grandma. He could also be silly or mischievous. He loved to test boundaries and play jokes – to see people’s reactions or make them laugh. At times, he was like Curious George: inquisitive, curious, and daring. He could be rebellious and stubborn at times, but a good explanation would satisfy him – unless he offered up “a deal”.

Christian loved everything to do with cars, trucks, machines, trains, or Legos. But his passion was superheroes, with Batman being his favorite.

On the morning of Sunday, January 24, 2016, Christian woke up with cold-like symptoms, and by that evening, he complained of respiratory distress. We took him to our nearby emergency department for evaluation, and after spending nearly an entire night and next day at the hospital, he was transferred to Packard Children’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). During the transport, Christian lost consciousness, one of his lungs collapsed, and he experienced internal bleeding.

Both Christian and the doctors at Packard Children’s fought for his life, but he passed away on January 25, 2016, 20 minutes after arriving at the PICU. The doctors determined that Christian contracted Influenza B and bacterial (streptococcal and staphylococcal) pneumonia and was overwhelmed by sepsis. He did receive his annual flu vaccine, but somehow still caught the flu.

Since Christian’s passing, the Bereavement and Family Guidance Program at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has opened their arms and welcomed us into their family. Our first experience with the program happened in 2016 during the 11th Annual Day of Remembrance, where families and friends gather to honor the children from the Packard Children’s community who have passed away.

The many wonderful events that the Bereavement and Family Guidance Program hold each year are very special to us. These events provide our family and others with a place where we can feel our loved ones’ presence, a place to tell them they are always in our hearts, a place to let them know that we will never forget them. They are days to simply let go of the pain and cherish the precious moments of our loved ones.

The Family Guidance Program also provides a safe place for families to share feelings with one another free from judgement. We can be comfortable talking about how we had two children, but one is in Heaven. We have found support with others as we’ve wrestled with what more we could have done and what it is like to be a family who has lost a child through terrible illness. Spending time with other families who have experienced the loss of a child provides us with the comfort of knowing that we are not alone. We are also able to share the indescribable pain and aches that we now carry.

Your contribution will continue to support the Bereavement and Family Guidance Program and provide such wonderful programs ranging from Annual Day of Remembrance to Family Memory Making Day. The program, which is entirely funded by philanthropy, has provided our family solace in times of need, a place where we can come and share our pain and our most vulnerable feelings in a supportive and healing environment.  (You can find an article about our involvement in Family Memory Making Day here.) We have seen and experienced firsthand the importance of the Bereavement and Family Guidance Program to our family and to the many families affected by a similar situation; a situation no parents, siblings, grandparents, and family members choose to be in.

The Bereavement and Family Guidance Program and the wonderful staff are close to our hearts and serve an important role to families like ours who have lost a child or children. Without their guidance and support, we would not know where we could turn during our difficult lifelong journey.

We are very excited to be part of this year’s Summer Scamper, as this will be our first time participating in a 5k/10k race. This wonderful event will raise awareness and donations to support many wonderful departments and service areas here at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford University School of Medicine. But most importantly, this event will continue to promote the wonderful programs and events that the Bereavement and Family Guidance Program has provided to our family.

We look forward to Christian’s presence and feeling him cheer us on from Heaven, Olivia crossing the finish line with a smile as bright as the sun, and the joy we’ll feel when we cross the finish line. Thank you for your contributions to the Bereavement and Family Guidance program here at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and for keeping Christian in your hearts!

Thank you,

Christian’s family: Eugenia, Darryl, and Olivia