Issue 17-123 — April 1, 2017
Starshine Galaxy Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help sustain the memories of children who have died. To this end, we support the Tributes to Lost Children Community Page on Facebook as a place to post, share, and comment on activities to honor our departed children and to celebrate their lives. This biweekly Tributes Digest presents highlights from this community page along with other items of interest. Please feel free to forward this on to others you know who might be interested, and direct any comments, questions, or concerns to

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A Rainbow For Us: Dreaming of a World Where Children Don’t Drown (March 21) – A Rainbow For Us is a memorial website that honors children who have died in drowning accidents. Vahnessa Estien and Holly Smith-Wyatt created the website to put a face to childhood drowning cases and to remind people that drowning is preventable. “A Rainbow For Us presents an avenue for the lives of these children to be celebrated and remembered,” say Vahnessa and Holly. “It is a resounding voice for spreading our message of hope that, one day, we could look to the sky and see the rainbow as a sign that we now live in a world where children no longer die … as a result of drowning.”
Someone You Love: The Kristen Forbes Story (March 27) – Kristen Forbes had just started her first job out of college when she noticed that her right ankle swelled up for no apparent reason. After some investigation, her doctor gave her an unexpected diagnosis: she had advanced-stage cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Kristen died in 2008, after an 11-month battle with the disease. She was 23 years old. Kristen’s parents, Kirk and Brenda Forbes, started the Kristin Forbes EVE Foundation to alert as many people as possible about the need to vaccinate children and young adults against HPVs. Kirk documented his daughter’s life of using Kristen’s own journal entries to provide the framework for her story. Some of the proceeds from his book, ‘Love, Kristen: One Young Woman’s Courageous Battle Against Cancer,’ go to fight HPV and cervical cancer.
Landon’s Mom: For Baby “Fed Is Best” (March 20) – Soon after he was born, Jillian and Jarrod Johnson’s son, Landon, died from something no one — not even the experts — saw coming: accidental starvation. Landon began to nurse within hours of his birth. Although the lactation consultant did let Jillian know that a combination of factors put her at risk of having low milk production, she was still encouraged to breastfeed exclusively. After all, Landon had a perfect latch, and it seemed to be going well. But, although he nursed constantly and had several wet diapers, Landon wasn’t getting enough milk. Twelve hours after the Johnsons took their baby home, he went into cardiac arrest brought on by dehydration. He died two weeks later, after being removed from life support. Jillian is sharing her story in the hopes that Landon’s death may help save another baby’s life.

Dancer, Artist, Human: Ella Was the Light of Our Lives (March 30) – Ella Bandes was 23 years old and her adult life was just beginning. “She was a dancer, a musician, an artist,” her parents, Judy Kottick and Ken Bandes, say. “She was applying to grad school for a PhD in clinical psychology and working in a psychology lab. She was a beautiful person.” In 2012, she moved from New Jersey to Queens and started an internship. In early 2013, Ella was heading home late at night when she was hit by a bus as she crossed a busy intersection. She died four days later. Ken and Judy have established a memorial scholarship in their daughter’s honor; it aims to help students who are majoring in psychology and involved in arts programming at Ella’s alma mater. They also work with Families For Safe Streets to advocate for pedestrian safety on the streets of NYC. The group’s primary goal is to achieve zero pedestrian fatalities.
Chelsea Never Ceased to Amaze Us … (March 28) – When she arrived in the world on September 28, 1992, Chelsea “brought more joy into our lives than we can express in words,” say her parents, Doug and Julie Hutchinson. At the age of 11, Chelsea began having occasional seizures. One April night in 2009, Chelsea had a seizure in her sleep that caused her death. She was 16 years old. Chelsea’s parents would soon come to learn all about SUDEP, or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, the sudden, unexpected death of someone with epilepsy who is otherwise healthy. Doug and Julie started the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation to raise awareness of SUDEP, and to grant comfort, hope, and positivity to individuals and families living with the disease.
Giovanni’s Parents Know the Real Dangers of Food Allergies (March 22) – Giovanni Cipriano was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Although the nurse gave his parents an Epi-Pen and showed them how to use it, John and Giorgina Cipriano weren’t given a food allergy management plan. “I don’t remember there being any sense of this is a life-or-death situation,” Giorgina says. Fast-forward to the fall of 2013, not long after 14-year-old Giovanni started his freshman year of high school. One evening, he ate some snack mix that contained peanuts. Just as they reached the ER, Gio went in to anaphylactic shock and stopped breathing. He passed away after several days in a coma. The Ciprianos want to honor their son’s memory by letting other parents of kids with food allergies know that it’s important to have an allergist and a plan of action. “Don’t take it lightly because we did,” John says, “because [he] never had a serious reaction. And, within what felt like a half a minute, our life was turned upside down.”

We All Have to Learn a New Code, a Code That Can Save a Life (March 29) – The opioid addiction epidemic has become one of America’s most pressing health problems, claiming close to 100 lives every day. Many of the people who die are young, very young — just about to begin their young adult lives. Tributes to Lost Children often profiles bereaved families who have started organizations or created something else to send out into the world in honor of their children. But in the end, telling a child’s story is what matters most. New Jersey mom Linda Lajterman shared her son’s story with the world in early 2014, just one month after he died of a heroin overdose. She didn’t want Danny’s life to be summed up by his death, and she didn’t want his death to be just one more drug-related casualty statistic.
A Mission of Love, Hope, and the Will to Live (March 23) – By all accounts, Will Trautwein was an exceptional young man. The 15-year-old was a talented student and popular member of his community. He starred in lacrosse, rather than baseball like his dad, but clearly inherited his athletic genes. Will dreamed of being a musician, always practicing guitar. “I love you, man,” he and his friends would tell one another each day after school. He was “a kid who had it all together,” says his father, John Trautwein. But then, something entirely unexpected happened: On October 15, 2010, Will died by suicide in his bedroom. There had been no sign of depression or mental illness. To honor their son’s life, John and his wife, Susie, created the Will to Live Foundation – an organization that strives to raise awareness about teen suicide and encourage young people to confide in their peers and be there for one another in times of need.
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The complete netbook version of Tributes to Lost Children – a snapshot of how 147 families have honored their children who have passed away – is publicly available for FREE. Click on the cover image above to navigate to this powerful, heart-warming compilation of tribute stories.
Based on results of the Tributes Survey, three general motivations anchor bereaved families in their tribute activities. See the organizing Tributes Framework that serves as the backbone of the new book Tributes to Lost Children.
Copyright © 2017 Starshine Galaxy Foundation, All rights reserved.

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