Joy and the kids on the first day of school in 2008

Elli’s talker is the computer screen you see in this photo. It flipped up and rested on her tray. (We flipped it away so we could see her face in the photo.)

When Elli died, we began a special fund in her memory. We call it the Find a Voice Fund, and we use the money raised to help children of all ages purchase communication devices, or “talkers.”

three kids with facepaint

We spent our Saturday at our biggest fundraiser of the year, a walk organized by the children’s hospital our children use.

two kids with face paint

It’s become a favorite fall tradition, especially since it usually takes place within a week of the date Elli passed. Our favorite thing, as you can tell, is the facepaint.

Elli memorial garden

Our second favorite thing is making flowers to put in the remembrance garden.

The kids compete to raise the most, and the youngest always wins – something about being the other kid who has hospital experience I suppose. I laugh to myself each year when I have to remind the kids that the money they are raising isn’t for them. They get over their initial thrill at having hundreds of dollars and really get excited about raising money to help other kids like their big sister.

We all freeze our butts off getting up so early in late October to walk by the river, we clutch our coffee and our hot chocolate as we walk, and we make great memories. It never ceases to overwhelm me as I watch the flood of people at the walk. It’s sad that so many have needed the children’s hospital. It’s encouraging that so many join families to help make things better for others.

What do you do with your kids to make things better?

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