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Something to hold on to

Sawyer Williams lives on by helping others to remember

Sawyer Williams may have only lived a couple of days, but he continues to impact the world he spent such little time in.

Sawyer is the son of Michelle and Erik Williams of Channahon. He would have been 3 years old June 1. He lived from June 1 to June 3, 2010. Sawyer has an older sister, Sadie, who is 5, and a little brother, Landon, who will be 1 at the end of the month.

Sawyer was delivered just six months into his mother’s pregnancy and was born with a congenital heart defect. The heart defect caused his blood not to get oxygenated and resulted in Sawyer having organ failure.

When Michelle Williams left the hospital, she left not holding her son, but a memory box she was given. The contents of this box are what got her through that tragic day and the hard days that followed.

The Williams family went on to create Sawyer’s Heart Project, which later joined with Angels of Hope Inc. in Coal City, an organization that helps anyone dealing with the emotional or physical absence of a child. Sawyer’s Heart Project creates and gives memory boxes to hospitals to provide to families who suffer pregnancy or infant loss while in the hospital.

Friday, May 31, Michelle and Erik Williams celebrated their son’s birthday by doing their third year of deliveries of Sawyer’s Heart Project boxes to area hospitals.

“Someone did it for us, so this is why we know how to,” said Michelle Williams.

This was the second year they delivered to Morris Hospital because, fortunately, last year the hospital did not need a refill of boxes. Mary Baudino, bereavement facilitator for the OB unit in Morris, accepted the donation of 32 boxes with open arms.

“It just melts my heart,” she said. “We have to give these mothers something, they have nothing.”

All the boxes contain bereavement literature; copies of the books “When Hello Means Goodbye” and “The Christmas Box,” which are about grieving the loss of a child; foot/hand molds; picture frames; blankets; small stuffed animals; hats and/or booties; sleepers; and disposable cameras.

The boxes allow the families to leave holding something since they are unable to leave carrying their child.

They not only help the family cope, but also the staff.

“It helps them because we see the loss and don’t know how to deal with it,” said Baudino.

Michelle and Erik Williams delivered a total of 163 boxes to Morris, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, and Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Last year, they delivered 80 to two hospitals.

Donations for the boxes come in from all over the country, said Michelle Williams. Many are handmade hats, booties and gifts.

To continue with Sawyer’s Heart Project, the organization continuously takes donations for the boxes. On their wish list are hand and footprint plaster mold kits; copies of “When Hello Means Goodbye;” disposable cameras; receiving blankets; hat and bootie sets; newborn and preemie sleepers; small and votive candles; travel size baby shampoos and lotions; small notebooks and journals; angel ornaments; hand and footprint ink kits; picture frames (5x7 and smaller); travel size tissue or handkerchiefs; and micropreemie angel wraps or burial bunting.

Items can be mailed to Sawyer’s Heart Project, c/o Michelle Williams, 25645 Bridle Path, Channahon, Ill., 60410.

For more information on Sawyer’s Heart Project, visit the Facebook page at

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