CLEARFIELD – Alongside guests – some in silly costumes -Matt and Annie Hinton, of Fairfield, CT, not only honored their son’s life, but also celebrated the success of Brady’s Smile Inc., an organization that he inspired, at their second annual “Color the Night” fundraiser event.
Matt said when collecting his thoughts earlier in the day, he continually returned to the same one. He said he kept thinking about how far their organization has progressed over the last year.
He said that parents don’t have a book or instruction manual for dealing with the loss of their child. He said they could have sat at home and felt sorry for themselves. He said that he and his wife, however, chose to co-find Brady’s Smile.
“What a way to honor our beautiful son,” Matt said. He said they currently have implemented four programs in 11 hospitals in six states.
“You’re the ones who made it possible. All I can say is thank you,” he said. “Take a second and pat yourself on the back. We are very proud.”
Annie said neither she nor Matt could even begin to capture the success of their organization. She said the fundraiser event was very personal for her, as she is a Clearfield native.
“It means so much. A lot has happened in a short time, and it’s all a thanks to Brady. He continues to inspire us,” she said.
She said Brady’s Smile had just touched its first life through the organization’s programs at the time of the first Color the Night fundraiser event. She said now, one year later, they have touched close to 8,000 lives.
Annie said their organization has become an integral part of two hospital facilities in Pennsylvania – DuBois Regional Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. She said in the past year alone, they have donated over $16,000 combined in support to those facilities.
“Our main reason for celebration is always to continue to honor and remember our son, Brady Blaine. The impact of his two years of life has already been felt by people everywhere,” she said.
She said Brady’s Smile has brought them friendships with perfect strangers who’ve directly benefited from their programs. Many of those have contacted the couple and expressed both gratitude and support.
Along the “Wall of Hope,” a mother, Julie wrote that her son, Mason had suffered a broken neck in a car accident on Dec. 21, 2008. She told the couple he was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital for nine days. She said they received a comfort bag and cookies.
“Words can’t express how much we appreciated those things during a very difficult time,” she wrote.
A mother, Elizabeth wrote about her 3-montn-old son, Braeden, who was also in the PICU at Yale-New Haven. She wanted to give the couple a big THANK YOU for the “goodie bag” and blanket.
Elizabeth wrote she was moved to tears, when the nursing staff brought it to her.
“In a big scary room, it was so reassuring to have something soft and sweet, just for my little boy,’ she wrote.
“I’m not sure who was more comforted me or my son. It meant more than you know.”
Another mother, April wrote that she had given birth to a baby girl who was 14 weeks early on July 29, 2008. She said afterward, her daughter was hospitalized at both DuBois Regional Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
While at the hospital, she wrote she had received a comfort bag and “loved getting it.” She said she spent the entire days with her daughter at the hospital.
April was touched by Brady’s Smile and visited the organization’s Web site. She, of Johnsonburg, said she would contact the school district and request the students draw pictures for other children and families at hospitals, as part of the organization’s “Color ‘n Care” program.
A family of four – Bill, Tracy, Amber and Alex – offered their thanks for a Brady’s Smile package. They wrote it was truly appreciated.
“I can only imagine what life must have been like for your family for the short two years that Brady blessed your lives. After spending only three weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit with Alex, it feels like an eternity,” Tracy wrote.
She said her family hoped to meet the couple in person and personally thank them one day.
“You have created a wonderful organization, and I hope it only continues to grow for you,” Tracy wrote.
“What you’re doing has and will continue to touch the lives of so many fragile families. You’re truly an inspiration to us all.”