VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach couple is hoping to help families going through hardships in their late daughter’s name.
In 2018, Rachel and Doug Ellis were expecting to give birth to a healthy baby girl, River, when an umbilical cord accident occurred during birth.
River died in the hospital two days later.
“We found ourselves with going to the hospital with these expectations of bringing home this healthy girl to coming home from the hospital to plan a funeral,” Doug said.
The tragedy was unexpected, and left the couple in a period of darkness.
“The whole thing was brutal and absolutely devastating to us. I think throughout all of it, we made the choice to be positive and make something of our life. It would’ve been easy to have turned to a dark and bitter place. I think we, every day, put forth an effort to make the most of this, to make sense of this, and use it in a positive way,” Rachel said.
Inspired by the community that rallied around them, the couple decided they wanted River’s legacy to live on.
So they created the River Ellis Foundation, which kicked off in September with a paddle launch marking River’s first birthday. The organization’s mission is to give sunrise to others during dark moments.
“It seemed fitting that as we pursue our own sunrise, it made sense to give sunrise to others in Hampton Roads who are in their own darkness,” Doug said.
The Ellises foundation has already raised around $200,000 and given out two awards to families in need, who say they just want to provide a support system to others who don’t have one.
“We just realized that when we went through our own unexpected hardship, that so many others out there aren’t as fortunate as we are to have an unbelievable support system to help them get through their darkest hour and get to the other side,” they said.
On the other side for them is healing and the birth of their son, Henry, who they’ll raise knowing about his sister and all the good that will be associated with her name.
“It’s gratifying to us to start this in her honor, and that in her two short days here, her legacy will be so much bigger and so much long and forever be memorialized through this foundation,” they said.
The Ellises want the community to be involved with the foundation and say the award process is based on nominations.
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