2018-03-07 / Front Page

Fundraiser Draws Amazing Support

~ Caring Cradles ~
by David Pugh
Buckeye Staff Writer


Top: Danielle Merillat, left, and Kristen Lauber. The two women put on a fundraiser to purchase Caring Cradles, which allow families to spend time with babies who have passed. Middle: People hold up paddles to bid during the Feb. 17 event. Right: A Caring Cradle, manufactured by a U.S. firm.– Top photo by David Pugh; middle and bottom, courtesy photos Top: Danielle Merillat, left, and Kristen Lauber. The two women put on a fundraiser to purchase Caring Cradles, which allow families to spend time with babies who have passed. Middle: People hold up paddles to bid during the Feb. 17 event. Right: A Caring Cradle, manufactured by a U.S. firm.– Top photo by David Pugh; middle and bottom, courtesy photos The loss of a baby is a painful, sorrowful experience.

Two local women know.

Kristen Lauber, Archbold, lost a child, Marleah, at the age of two months to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2012.

She started an organization, Memories for Marleah, with the goal of helping others who had lost children to SIDS.

Memories for Marleah held fundraisers, including two five-kilometer (5K) races, and raised around $30,000, Kristen said.

Kristen and Danielle Merillat, rural Ridgeville Corners, met through church. After learning that Danielle had miscarried (in November 2017), Kristen talked to her about resources that were available.

Even before she delivered her baby boy, whom she and her husband, Logan, named Miller, Danielle said, “I wanted to do something to give back in his honor. Right after I came home (from the hospital), I asked Kristen if she wanted to meet up with me.”

Knowing Kristen’s experience with fundraising, Danielle said, “I just had a couple of questions about how to do it, and what I need to do it.

“I had no idea. She obviously had the knowledge of it.

“I had the drive, she had the knowledge– so together, we did it.”

They put together the “M&M (Marleah & Miller) Quarter Auction and FUNdraiser,” Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Archbold Knights of Columbus Rebeau Hall.

The event was so successful, even they were surprised.

Caring Cradle

The two said their goal was to purchase two Caring Cradles.

The devices, made in the United States, are designed to slow the decomposition process of a deceased child’s body.

They give the parents more time to say goodbye to their child.

There is an earlier design, which Memories for Marleah had purchased for another organization, but Caring Cradles are more for hospital-related settings.

“We were only expecting to get two Caring Cradles,” Danielle said. One was to be for the Fulton County Health Center, where Marleah was born, and one was for Toledo Hospital, where Miller was delivered.

The cradles are “roughly four grand ($4,000) each,” Kristen said.

Danielle said they didn’t have a goal of a particular amount of money.

“Below ten ($10,000),” Danielle said.

But they did better than that.

“Now we have enough for four” of the cradles, Kristen said.

All told, they raised more than $20,000.

“That’s (a) gross (amount). We have expenses,” Kristen said.

“We knew going into it we had monetary donations, and from selling tickets, we knew kind of where we stood already financially, but we had no idea of what we would make,” Danielle said.

“We were originally going to do it for 140 people.”

“120,” Kristen said.

“Then we went to 225, and then, the hall held 400, but we sold close to 300 tickets,” Danielle said.

Quarter Auction

In a quarter auction, donated items are put up for auction. Those who want the item put a quarter in a container, then raise an auction paddle with an individual number.

“My husband spent two whole days making these beautiful paddles,” Danielle said.

A number is picked at random; the paddle with that number is the winner.

There were 220 donated items, including high-end coolers, a solid oak high chair, gift certificates for restaurants and massages, a limo service– even a certificate for a concealed-carry handgun class.

Kristen said she had contacts from her previous fundraisers whom she could ask for donations.

Danielle called on businesses.

“You would go out one day, it would be so amazing. You would go out another day, and you’d feel like…’Why am I out today?’

“I think that was the hardest thing, asking for donations,” Danielle said.

When asked why the event was such a success, she said, “I think it was just support. Everyone wanted to support us.

“It’s hard to explain what losing a child is, and I think everyone realizes that.

“We needed their support, and they were all there.”

Losing A Child

Kristen said when a child is lost, “It’s not just one day. Grief is something that never ends, because we’ve lost a piece of ourselves.

“At the same time, both of us can easily tell you they are very much here with us. They are definitely leaving a mark and leaving a legacy beyond what we could ever think of or dream.”

Danielle said, “One thing I told her, I could have probably sat on that couch and cried every day. She probably could too, but you’re not going anywhere doing that.

“Everyone grieves differently… this is our way of grieving.

During the fundraiser, all of the women who had lost children were asked to stand. Each was given a handmade angel pin.

“There were so many,” Danielle said.

“There was a mother at every table,” Kristen said.

“There were a lot of tears during that,” Danielle said.

“But they were good tears.”

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