I'm Abbey Ahern, Executive Director of SHINE. I've been married to my husband Robert for 10 years, and in that time we have been blessed with 5 incredible little girls, Dylan, Harper Lou, Annie, Iva, and Margaret. We are hosting this event in honor of our middle daughter, Annie Rachel Ahern.
Annie was born with a terminal birth defect known as anencephaly. We were aware before she was born that she was not made for this earth, but it was very clear to us that she had a purpose. Annie was born on the morning of June 26, 2013, and passed away that very same evening after living a beautiful 14 hours and 58 minutes. Her little light may have gone out that day, but not before she was able to pass it on.
Giving is a large part of Annie's legacy.
When Annie passed away, she made history as Oklahoma's very first newborn infant organ donor. Annie was able to donate several of her organs for research purposes, and because she was the very first in this state, protocols were put into place that made the process easier for other parents like us.
Annie gave the gift of life, and we are choosing to honor her with this event in the spirit of giving.
Annie has changed our family in so many ways. Our older girls were able to meet and spend time with their sister on the day she was born, and I will forever be grateful and cherish those precious memories. Our younger girls will always hear about their big sister Annie and how she changed the world. We are so proud of all 5 of our daughters.
Carrying a baby with a terminal condition is extremely difficult for so many reasons. My family is so blessed with an incredible support system, and that includes our friends at The Spero Project. I believe in their mission, and when I decided to plan a fundraiser in honor of Annie, they were the perfect choice for us to support.
I documented our journey over the past 5 years in a blog, Tomorrow Will Be Kinder. It begins when we received Annie's diagnosis and tells our story in detail. I wrote a new post anytime something was on my heart, and it is an in depth look at grief, love, loss, and recovery. If you are interested in learning more about Annie's life and her impact, I invite you to read more about her here.
I hope you'll join us at this inaugural event! I am very much looking forward to celebrating Annie's 5th birthday while raising money for The Spero Project. I can't wait to see you all SHINE!
Love, Abbey Ahern
Executive Director, SHINE