This may be cliche to do, but I am going to overview what happened during the past year with the Foundation and our lives....
The Foundation seemed to really take off this year. Through the support and donations, Abby's Hugs was able to expand to include the hospitals in Fairfax and Albany, it was able to give books and coloring books to the Nodaway County Health Office, and the program allowed me into schools to speak about compassion. Abby's Gift was begun to help educate on organ donation and we hope it has helped people express their wishes to their loved ones. Abby's Gardens program was created and has taken the beginning steps to help EFE in their outdoor classroom. Hopefully other schools will soon be interested in help for theirs also. June brought the First Annual Celebration of Children which, despite the weather, was a wonderful, enjoyable family day and a successful fundraiser for the Foundation. The Foundation celebrated its anniversary in August, marking one year since the first donation to St Francis ER. And, of course, this blog was started to help keep everyone up to speed with what is going on.
We rang in 2008 with two girls instead of 3 like we had planned for our lives and faced many battles as we struggled through the year. The year was filled with legal battles. We spent numerous hours in the courtroom and with the attorneys as we planned for a trial in April. Then the letter came on April 1st telling us the trial had been canceled. I still have the email I sent to everyone....
The end is in sight! Trial has been cancelled...On April 28th Ryan Sundermann will change his plea to guilty to the higher manslaughter charges that carry 7 years max. On May 23rd he will be sentenced. We will enter a joint recommendation of 6 years, but the sentence will be totally up to the judge. This is the day we need everyone there. On this day we will be able to read a statement to the court. He will be sentenced that day and taken away that day. That much of all of this will be over. I can't even begin to describe the emotions today. The tears just won't stop. Mostly they are tears of happiness and relief that this stage is all but over. Our Abby will finally receive some justice and we can move on to the next steps that need to be taken. It just seems unreal and hard to say....It's over.
The year continued as Ryan Sundermann was sentenced on June 25th to 6 years. I was an emotional wreck that day as I had to read our statement to the court before sentencing. Our hearts then ached with sadness as we were informed Ryan Sundermann would be up for parole consideration in December, and we had to travel to the prison to prevent this. We, along with family and friends, read statements tearfully asking he not be released. Our Christmas gift came early as we were informed parole was denied, bringing us some relief that this battle should be over.
Everyday life was different without Abby there. We were forced to "celebrate" her birthday without her in June and marked her "Heavenly Birthday" in March. We let Mady have the pool party we had planned for a combined birthday party the year before as we tried to not deny her the enjoyment because of our pain. Our Elly turned one and learned to say Abby's name. Every holiday and event was marked with tears and pain as not a day went by without us missing our Princess. We hope that 2008 brought "closure" to some issues and that the rest will be resolved in 2009 (another trial in September).
We have only been able to make it through because of the support of family and friends. Seriously, without all of you I would still be curled up in my bed, tears flowing, having a pity party. Not saying that doesn't happen ever, but I don't think I would be able to leave and know I would not have been able to start the Foundation and grow it into what it has become so far. So, THANK YOU to everyone out there that has helped us in some way, no matter how small you may think it was.
2009~ We have some more plans for the growth and expansion of the Foundation. There are more needs that need filled and more kids that need "hugs". We plan to begin the processes to change the legal things that we have discovered need changed. We plan to start local and work up (or out) on some things. We will keep you informed as we make our progress to try and correct these issues.