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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Seeds of Love for Errol

By Guest Blogger Jonathan Milner and Katie M.

In a certain sense we all start dying as soon as we are born, but with the birth of our son, Errol Milner Clifford, death came to take him immediately.

The first sound a healthy newborn makes is a loud cry. From the moment of his delivery we waited for this sharp wail of life. It did not come. The midwife patted his back to force the cry. It did not come. The nurse suctioned his lungs. It did not come. The midwife gave him oxygen. The cry did not come.

Through our tears of joy and exhaustion and excitement we realized that something was wrong with our child. He would not cry. Something was keeping him from this world. Something was terribly wrong.

This was not the arrival we had anticipated. Nothing is guaranteed in life, but we had assumed that the prenatal yoga, vitamins, sobriety, child birthing classes, and good humor we kept would protect us from danger, fear, death, this.

After the heat lamp failed to increase his pulse rate and after the oxygen mask was unable to sustain his breathing we rushed to the hospital ten minutes away. Errol was fading from the new life he had just begun. - JM

Errol lives down the street from me, and while I knew he and his family have been bravely battling a host of challenges, I never fully realized their struggles until I read the articles that have been running in Forsyth Family magazine. It’s an unbelievable story that not only moves you, but stays with you.

The introduction to today’s post is the first in a series of blogs that Errol’s dad, Jonathan, has been writing since Errol’s birth. Beautifully written, these entries detail the journey that parents Jonathan and Cary (and their five-year-old son Owen) have endured for the past three years.

You can follow Jonathan’s blog by clicking here. And not only does the family chronicle their story, but they – along with a community of friends and family – have started Seeds of Love for Errol - a series of fundraising events to help cover the medical costs of Errol who suffers from a rare heart defect called Pulmonary Atresia (Errol just recently endured his third open heart surgery), as well as other problems – terrible vision, mental retardation, low muscle tone, and poor bones and teeth. Yet despite all this, Errol is one of the happiest kids and has a wonderful personality.

The culmination of Seeds of Love for Errol is a community dinner and raffle. On September 19 at 6:30 pm at the Vintage Theatre (on Vintage Avenue in the Washington Park neighborhood of Winston-Salem), the event will include a dinner, wine tasting, live music and a raffle. The meal will be prepared by local chefs using the food locally grown in the gardens in and around the Washington Park neighborhood. Neighbors have banded together to grow produce specifically for this event, many of whom have never planted a garden before. The idea is to create a low carbon footprint meal; therefore, helping the environment as much as the event helps Errol. John LeBlanc, a filmmaker, and his students from the North Carolina School of the Arts are filming a documentary about the fundraiser and the neighborhood coming together for the common good. Winston-Salem Mayor Joines will open the event.

Any one can attend, and all are encouraged to do so. Tickets are $40 each, and you can email Eddie Ingle at or call him at 336-816-7333 to purchase your tickets. In addition, the event will feature a raffle (click here to see the amazing items being raffled off), and you can purchase raffle tickets in advance through Cathy Cooper 336-575-7146 or Eddie Ingle at 336-816-7333.

Leading up to this dinner event, Seeds of Love for Errol has been holding multiple fundraising activities throughout the summer, including Children’s Heart Awareness Day in late August, as well as bake sales and lemonade stands.

You can learn more about sweet Errol, his amazing family, and this wonderful community event by visiting the web site www.SeedsofLoveforErrol. We hope you can attend and support Errol! - KM


Jennifer H. said...

This is a beautiful representaion of how a community can come together to help those in need. All my best to Errol and his family.
Jennifer H

Rachel H said...

Jonathan, thank you for sharing your story. We hope that the dinner and raffle are a huge success and that Errol can get all the help he needs.

J.J.C. said...

I just read some of your blog and you are a beautiful writer. Your love for your son just shines through the words you write. Sounds like you are both so lucky to have each other. All my best to your family.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful idea. You have great friends who would organize this for you. It shows that you have been good to them as well. Best of luck with this endeavor.

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