(This Article First Appeared on SNN TV.com)
By Hallie Peilet
BRADENTON – October 24, 2003: The night Melissa Wandall’s life changed forever. “My husband’s life was tragically taken in an automobile crash. A motorist ran a red light and took his life and seriously injured my brother,” Wandall said.
Melissa was nine months pregnant at the time.
”My daughter was going to be born two weeks later and it was just a moment in my life where I had to embrace the love, not the loss,” Wandall said.
She and her husband Mark had just been married a year, but Wandall knew she couldn’t let tragedy dictate her life.
“I didn’t want to be a broken mommy. I wanted my daughter to know she was born in love and light,” Wandall said.
Melissa also lost her sister to cancer as a kid. Between that and losing Mark, she knew her purpose was to build a support system for those grieving.
The nonprofit Mark Wandall Foundation facilitates programs for children, teens and young adults in grief. Wandall even started a yearly camp for kids suffering a loss. The camps provide a special friendship, giving kids the tools they need to go through the journey of grief. It costs a little over $1,000 to send a kid to camp, which Wandall can do with A Helping Hand from Carl Reynolds Law.
It helps kids like Hailey Wagner, who lost her father and has been to five camps.
“It made me feel not alone,” Wagner said.
The camp is held every April, and the money from the foundation pays for each kid to go.