Everly’s Angels Foundation was created by Crystal Hopkins of Odessa and named for her late daughter Everly.
When Everly was born in February 2014 and diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a fatal genetic defect, Hopkins knew her time with her daughter was limited.
She created a bucket list of things for her and her family to do with the infant in order to spend as much quality time with her as possible.
During the less than a year that Everly lived, Hopkins became aware of how common infant deaths are in the United States, which led her to create the nonprofit Everly’s Angels Foundation.
“One out of four families experiences some kind of a miscarriage, stillbirth or an infant loss,” Hopkins said. “That’s a pretty large percentage of the population, yet child loss isn’t a subject that is discussed.
“The foundation was born out of our desire to meet the needs of families who have experienced child loss. Losing your child is life-changing and most parents who experience child loss will tell you that they divide their life into before and after.”
Along with providing emotional support for families who experience child loss, Everly’s Angels Foundation provides special memory-making boxes called Everly After boxes, to local hospitals and hospices.
Many parents don’t get as much time with their children as Hopkins did, but she drew on the experience to fill the boxes with items that parents would need to create memories in the short time they do have.
A mold for making a hand or foot print and materials for making 3-D casts of the child’s feet and hands and collecting a lock of hair are included in the box.
“We want to maximize memory-making and minimize regret,” Hopkins said, noting families are numb with grief during child loss and having the items in the Everly After box allows them to create the memories they might otherwise not even consider.
One item that’s not in the box is a CuddleCot.
The CuddleCot is a device that’s hooked to a pad that goes under the infant to cool the body, which allows a family more time with a stillborn baby or an infant who dies early. Although there are more than 200 CuddleCots in hospitals across the country, there are none in Florida, with the exception of LifePath Hospice. Hopkins and her Everly’s Angels Foundation have scheduled the inaugural Volksmarch hike Saturday to raise money to purchase the $2,700 CuddleCots for more hospitals.
The Volksmarch will take place around Lake Rogers in Odessa. Individual registrations for the hike are $25 and $30, while registrations for families of three or more are $50 and $60. A silent auction, which also will be open on the foundation’s Facebook page, also is planned, and hikers can enjoy a cookout-style lunch afterward for a nominal fee.
“Between the registrations and the auction, we hope to raise $10,000, because we want to provide CuddleCots to as many hospitals in Florida as we can,” Hopkins adds.