Collin Bear

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It’s Been an Incredible Journey!

The past nine months have been an incredible journey–both devastating and joyful–but incredible, nonetheless. One year ago I was 6 months pregnant and exactly 3 months away from becoming a mother. My husband and I had been married for 6 years and were anxiously waiting for the arrival of our first-born child. Unfortunately, the day after my 39th week check-up we learned that our baby’s heartbeat had become silent. The most beautiful boy, Collin Timothy Althoff, was born on September 26, 2010. He was so precious with his full head of dark hair, chubby cheeks, and long, skinny legs. We spent as much time with Collin as we could over the next 24 hours knowing these would be our only moments together on this earth.

Collin Timothy Althoff (Photo courtesy of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization)

Before we left the hospital, a family friend, Patty, had given us a teddy bear to carry in our arms home. This was to help ease some of the deep pain we were feeling from the tragic loss of our son. This teddy bear, which we had named “Collin Bear,” helped us so much throughout the days, weeks, and months which lie ahead. Collin Bear was constantly in our arms or by our side as we travelled around making all of the arrangements for Collin’s funeral. Although Collin Bear could never even begin to replace Collin, having something physical to hold, comfort and “take care of” helped alleviate some of the deep emptiness and pain we felt without Collin.

Some of our friends, Brian and Lynn, had started a memorial fund for Collin. We prayed for direction on what we should do with the fund to best serve others in honor of our son. A couple of months later we had our answer…Collin Bear! This seemingly simple bear had been such a blessing to us, and we felt that teddy bears could also help future parents when faced with the death of their baby. It quickly became our mission to make sure that no other parent had to leave the hospital with empty arms. Because we were honoring our son in our new life mission, we wanted to name the non-profit organization after him. Instead of using his name, we decided to use his initials, CTA, and from that idea grew our name, Carrying Tender Angels.

Carrying Tender Angels (CTA) perfectly describes the true meaning behind our organization. Expectant mothers carry their tender angels throughout their pregnancy and anxiously wait for the day when they will be able to carry their tender angel home. For some families all of their hopes and dreams become instantly shattered when they learn their baby has died. Although these parents will not have the chance to carry their baby home, they will forever carry their baby deep within their hearts. It is at this moment that CTA offers parents a beautiful teddy bear to carry home. However, CTA doesn’t stop there…in fact, this is just the beginning of how our non-profit organization offers assistance to parents, families, and friends affected by the tragic loss of a beautiful baby.

Now, you’d think that helping others in such a way would not be too difficult…were we wrong! We never could have even imagined all that went into building a non-profit organization, but it has been well worth all of the time and effort, even if to help just one family. We are so fortunate to have had all of the wonderful love and support from all of our family and friends throughout this journey–we couldn’t have done it without you!

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