During Jamie’s last days in the hospital, we spoke to him about the possibility of creating this fund. We told him that, should we lose him, we wanted to create a lasting legacy for him beyond the one within our family. We wanted to take his loss and turn it into something helpful to other special needs children like him – his friends.
As a result, when Jamie died, we asked that people consider contributing to children with special needs in lieu of donating flowers. We originally chose the Macomb Intermediate School District – Macomb Infant Preschool Program (MISD – MIPP) as this is where Jamie received therapy services throughout his entire life. However, due to the overwhelming generosity of people like you, over $11,000 was collected.
Due to the amount donated, we asked the Shelby Community Foundation to manage the funds. We then worked with the Foundation and established a Memorial Fund that will give the MIPPS program a $1,000 grant on a yearly basis with an initial $2,000 grant (given to MIPPS in early October 2006) until either all of the contributions have been used in full or at which time the fund can be converted into a perpetual endowment. Contributions to this 501c(3) are tax deductible.
Upon talking to someone about Jamie’s story and the creation of the fund, she asked if we were going to call the fund Jamie’s Smiles. Gretchen, said, “No, my son had only just learned to smile at four months old when his seizures began and then during treatment he had only six weeks during which he was seizure free enough to smile at will. As a result, the name Jamie’s Smiles would not make sense.” The woman responded, “But don’t you think that he smiles now that he is free to do so every time someone helps a special needs child in his name?” We like to think that Jamie is smiling down for that very reason. We have called the fund Jamie’s Smiles to commemorate his beautiful, if too infrequent, smile and because we believe that he can now smile at will and smiles every time a child with special needs is helped because of his story.
Jamie was a “handicapped” or “special needs” child. He gave love freely and taught us unbelievable lessons in the unfathomably difficult and fleeting 19 months that he shared our lives. We will never be the same; not only from grief, but from who he showed us we could be and how we could live. We strive to honor his legacy whenever and where ever possible.
“Jamie’s Smiles” Endowment Fund perpetual is now perpetual, but we are striving to make a third grant available. It is our goal to raise $180,000 cash on hand. As of December 2008, we began making two yearly $1,000 grants available on an application basis for programs and organizations that help children with special needs in Macomb County. Please help us continue to support these programs!
Jamie’s Smiles is a charitable fund held & administered by the Shelby Community Foundation PO Box 183181, Shelby Township, MI 48318 - 586/909-5305
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