Issue 16-109 — September 17, 2016
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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Jacob’s Hope is a Light That Will Never Be Extinguished (September 6) – Since Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance in 1989, his parents, Patty and Jerry, never gave up hope of finding their son. They chose to keep Jacob’s Hope alive when they founded the Jacob Wetterling Foundation in 1990. Their main goal is to “educate the public about who takes children, how they do it and what each of us can do to stop it.” Upon learning that their son’s remains have just been found, the Wetterlings released a statement. “We are in deep grief,” it begins. “We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way … Our hearts are heavy, but we are being held up by all of the people who have been a part of making Jacob's Hope a light that will never be extinguished.”

Emily’s Mom Is Increasing Awareness of Childhood Cancer (September 15) – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Julie Apicella has made it her mission to do just that – raise awareness that children are, in increasing numbers, affected by cancer. Julie’s daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was 5 years old; she died last December after a 3-year battle with the disease. Recently, as another new school year got underway, Julie shared Emily’s back-to-school picture from 2015. She placed it alongside another picture of the same setting – one taken this year – without Emily. In her post, she asked friends and families to “change their profile pics to go gold,” by adding the international symbol of childhood cancer awareness: a gold ribbon.
An Evening of Hope ... For Baby Hope (September 14) – In mid-August, the body of an abandoned newborn baby was found in a western suburb of Chicago. Baby Hope, as authorities have since named her, had been left in a backpack by the side of a road. In the aftermath of the shocking tragedy, several women – many of whom either struggled with infertility, experienced a miscarriage or lost a child – came together to plan a non-denominational, multi-faith memorial service for Baby Hope. The ceremony also provided comfort for those grieving their own experience of infant or child loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, illness, accident, or any other similar instances.
Making the World a Safer Place ... For Cameron (September 13) – In October 2002, Greg and Leslie Gulbransen lost their 2-year-old son, Cameron, in a horrific accident – as Greg was backing the family’s SUV into the driveway, Cameron slipped out of the house and into the path of the reversing vehicle. The Gulbransens’ nightmarish tragedy pushed Cameron’s dad to do everything in his power to make automobiles safer for children. Twelve years after Cameron’s death, Greg’s hard work finally paid off, when the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act – which, for the first time, required the auto industry to establish rear visibility standards – was passed into law.
Gabby’s Law Will Save Lives (September 9) – In the first week of May 2012, Gabby Galbo was taken to the hospital four different times. The 5-year-old was horribly sick, but her doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. By the time she was correctly diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Gabby had run out of time – on May 11th, she died of septic shock. Gabby’s parents, Liz and Tony Galbo, don’t want any other family to lose a child the way they lost their daughter, so they enlisted local lawmakers to promote legislation that would require hospitals in Illinois to enact mandatory sepsis protocols. Thanks to the Galbos’ hard work – driven by their deep love for Gabby – Illinois officially adopted Gabby’s Law in August 2016.

Finding Purpose Over Pain … For Blair (September 12) – In May of 2007, Blair Holt was on a Chicago bus when a gang member boarded and indiscriminately opened fire. The 16-year-old was killed as he bravely shielded his friend. In the months following their son’s death, Ronald Holt and Annette Nance-Holt realized that they wanted to channel their pain into something positive. They created Purpose Over Pain, an organization made up of parents of gun victims that advocates for stronger common-sense gun laws, encourages greater communication within families, and offers support to parents that have lost a child to violence. “I’ve heard pain is passion,” says Annette, “…We need to not let our son die in vain.”
We Will Remember Her Joyfully and Lovingly (September 7) – In August 2013, Kayla Mueller, a human rights activist, was abducted by ISIS during a humanitarian aid mission in Syria. Kayla was held captive for 18 horrifying months before being killed in an air strike in 2015. She was 26 years old. Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, are continuing their daughter’s work and honoring her legacy through Kayla’s Hands, an organization they created in the wake of her death. “We will remember her joyfully and lovingly in the Northern Arizona mountains,” they say, “opening her heart to everyone in the world.”
I Feel Called to Honor Lydie in This Way (September 8) – Heather Johnston Welliver was 34 weeks pregnant with her daughter Lydie when she went in for a routine check-up. Up until that day, her pregnancy had gone well, but it became clear that something was wrong when her baby’s heartbeat couldn’t be found. It was later determined that an umbilical cord accident caused Lydie’s death. The loss of her daughter has moved Heather to work with Star Legacy Foundation, an organization that increases awareness about stillbirth and supports research to help end potentially preventable accidents in utero. “I feel called to do this work, to honor Lydie in this way,” says Heather.
Remembering Lane on His First Heavenly Birthday (September 5) – In June, the Graves family lost their 2-year-old son, Lane, when an alligator attacked him as he stood on a beach at a Disneyworld resort. On Saturday September 3, Lane’s family celebrated – along with hundreds of relatives, friends and supporters from the community – what would have been his third birthday. Standing on a football field, participants arranged themselves to form a large heart, and together they released 5,000 blue balloons up into the sky.
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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 © 2016 Starshine Galaxy Foundation, All rights reserved.

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