3:28 PM EDT, September 27, 2012
BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va.
Their baby girl was born with a rare chromosomal disorder that allowed her to only live for seven hours. But this short life lives on because of her parents.
When you step into Matt and Ashley Cecil's Botetourt County home this week you'll notice the dining room table is filled with hamburger rolls. Another room is piled high with door prizes.
To understand the Cecil's labor of love as they organize a golf tournament this week you need to go back to last year when Ashley was pregnant with the couple's second child.
"I was five months pregnant when I found out that she had Trisomy 18," Ashley Cecil said. Trisomy 18 is both rare and fatal.
"It causes severe mental abnormalities and also physical abnormalities as well," said Matt Cecil.
"So we knew there was a great possibility that we would not have her long as 90 percent of babies with her condition don't live to see their first birthdays," Ashley Cecil said. "We just prayed that God would give us enough time for her to get here and for us to meet her
and just tell her how much we love her."
The Cecils got that chance. Emerson Lane was born on April 10th, 2012. She was a full term baby who weighed just three pounds and 14 ounces. "April 10th yes, we call it Emmy's day," Ashley said.
Emerson Lane Cecil lived for seven hours- long enough to meet her big brother Cole. "He got to meet her. He got to hold her. He got to kiss her," Ashley said.
The seven hours was long enough for family photos and long enough for parents to show their love. "A lot of people say 'You only got 7 hours with her.' I say
'No. We got SEVEN remarkable hours.' That was awesome to us," Ashely said.
"We tell Cole that we went to the hospital to have a baby and we had an angel instead," Matt said.
In the days that followed the Cecils realized something. "We had heard stories from people in the cemetery industry that they had people before that just couldn't pay for a cemetery marker so that broke out hearts," Matt said.
The couple knows that parents need grief counseling and emotional support as well. That prompted them to form the Emmy Lane Foundation to support parents who've lost a baby from 20 weeks gestation to one year old. So far the outpouring has been amazing, Matt Cecil said.
"People are being so supportive. It's one of those things that nobody understands or realizes that there is a need for until you go through it," Matt said.
"We hope that by providing emotional and financial support for these families that
we can provide some comfort and peace while they go through the most difficult thing in their lives," Ashley said.
The Emmy Lane Foundation first annual golf tournament is Friday, September 28th at Monterey Golf Course in Roanoke. Both morning and afternoon flights are full.
The foundation is a non-profit organization that offers emotional support including complimentary professional counseling and grief care packets. It also offers financial support (application required) to cover the cost of cemetery markers.
If you'd like to support the foundation by providing counseling services or by making a donation or if you are in need of support please go to the Emmy Lane Foundation Web site.
Copyright © 2013, WDBJ7-TV