*The following comes from Bill Darnell, my brother-in-law and Executive Director of SIDS America*
It is with a humble, hurting, and heavy heart that I reach out to you. I am desperately seeking immediate financial help for my family.
We recently moved back to Colorado Springs. It has been so healing and redeeming to return to where our hearts have always desired to raise our family. This is where we believe God has called us to be and where we are to base our nonprofit ministry, SIDS America.
At the same time, it’s been humbling & frustrating considering what our lives, lifestyle, and routines were just 28 months ago living in Colorado Springs before Billy’s death. I was making $75,000 a year in a corporate management job. Both cars were paid for, we had no credit card debt, we had saved up over $45,000 in emergency savings, we owned our home with considerable equity built up, and we were so blessed that Cheryl could stay at home with Avery and Billy. We felt financially responsible, independent, self sufficient, and wise with decisions and investments. We never asked anyone for help; in fact, we sought ways we could bless & serve others, and our life & future felt very happy & hopeful.
Then, Billy died.
Now, 28 months later, we find ourselves desperately trying to survive. I’ve worked over 40+ hours a week, with minimal income, since launching SIDS America back in November 2008. We’ve depleted our savings and have even taken out loans to further the ministry and to help pay off grieving families' funeral, burial, and emergency medical bills.
We’ve served over 60 families across the country, representing hundreds of lives deeply impacted by the tragedy of SIDS.
I've aggressively been raising funds for our nonprofit ministry. To date, we’ve raised approximately $100,000 in private donations, and Cheryl and I have invested $135,000 of our own money into the ministry. All of these funds have been depleted to serve families in need, provide appropriate resources, and to form, build, and further the ministry.
We have dozens of volunteers across America who have offered to help us identify families who have lost a child to SIDS, visit and encourage grieving families, write notes of encouragement, pray for the families we serve, provide meals for grieving families, lead support groups in their hometown, organize fundraisers, and to contact their local pediatrician offices, hospitals, birth centers, daycares, medical examiners, churches and tell them about SIDS America.
As a family, we are just 10 days away from facing complete financial ruin and destroyed good established credit. For 28 months now, we have found a way to pay our bills on time, to keep afloat, as we aggressively & persistently formed, built, and grew SIDS America while all along searching for, reaching out to, and helping newly grieving families. Also, although this is humbling and hard to admit, we’ve had to apply for food stamps & Medicaid in order to get by.
Yes, the death of Billy has put our fragile lives in perspective.
Forming and starting the only faith-based, 501(c)(3) SIDS nonprofit in the country has come at a great price. But we have no regrets. In fact, we have new found empathy for the families we are serving.
I feel like we are getting a second chance at life again being back in Colorado. Our 4th child, Jared Wesley, is due in less than 45 days, and I can't tell you how much I long to welcome him into a calm, secure home environment, to make Cheryl & my kids feel safe, secure & stable again.
Would you please consider helping me reestablish my family and continue this ministry? Whether it’s $10, $100, $1000, $10,000, $100,000, or somewhere in between, given as a one time gift, or given monthly, your support will help us rebuild our lives. Even more importantly, your support will allow us to continue in this life-building ministry. Broken hearts will mend. Babies' lives will be saved. Hope will flood homes. All because YOU invested in SIDS America.
Here’s how you can help.
Our board has approved a $65,000/yr Executive Director salary for me to run SIDS America. If you can contribute to my ministry support, not only will you allow us to reach out to newly grieving families and further the ministry as laid out in the attached SIDS America Investor Proposal / Business Plan, but you will also help us continue on the path of healing here in Colorado Springs.
If this letter touches you anyway and you feel the urgent situation we are in, the most direct way to help us is to give online at www.sidsamerica.org/donatetoday. Any amount you give would be tax deductible since SIDS America is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry, and you would receive a receipt for tax purposes.
Or, you could send a check made payable to SIDS America to our new Colorado office address:
13710 Struthers Road, Suite 120
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
Or, you can send anything you want to the home we are renting:
Bill & Cheryl Darnell
14618 Allegiance Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
If the tragedy of Billy’s death and the path it has lead us down forces us to have to face bankruptcy, ruined credit, and years of not being able to own a home again or to get a loan, then I’m at the very least going to go down fighting to the last second. I refuse to be “that guy” who at his most desperate hour, didn’t ask for help. Please help us.