Saturday, December 9, 2023

This local nonprofit is providing a shoulder for parents of chronically ill children. Here’s how

Addy died in 2018 from a rare form of cancer, adrenocortical carcinoma. She was only 2 years old. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Amanda Ashburn)
Addy died in 2018 from a rare form of cancer, adrenocortical carcinoma. She was only 2 years old. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Amanda Ashburn)

Having a sick child or even bearing the thought of losing a child is a heavy toll on many families in the area.

Fortunately, there is one local nonprofit dedicated to providing support for families with chronically ill children.

Amanda Ashburn’s daughter, Addy, died in 2018 from a rare form of cancer, adrenocortical carcinoma.

She was only 2 years old.

While seeking support for herself and her family, Ashburn noticed how the only places providing resources were either in Richmond or Newport News. This was fine for connecting once a month, but Ashburn wanted something where families could connect more often.

In memory of Addy’s bright spirit, Ashburn founded Addy’s Colors. Though only a year old, the nonprofit is determined to help families celebrate their child’s life and fight with their illness through love and support.

“One thing we’ve been working on is the support groups,” Ashburn said. “Coming and talking about your feelings can be overwhelming if you don’t have educational pieces and people to support you.”

Addy’s Colors is hosting a virtual grief support group for people who have suffered the loss of a child and may be looking to learn more about grief and connect with others with similar experiences.

The grief support group will meet once a week on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. for six to eight weeks. Ashburn said they may extend this group since the holidays are approaching, a time that may be very difficult for families who have lost children.

Support group members will receive a journal and a resource book on grief for free. Addy’s Colors provides educational tools and resources, such as video and books on grief. Ashburn said they are holding the group virtually because of COVID-19 and to make sure everyone in the community is safe.

“We want to provide safe spaces within the Yorktown, Williamsburg area, but also include the Mechanicsville area in-person next year, too,” she said.

The group has a facilitator as well as people experienced in counseling. Ashburn said all are welcome to join.

Addy’s Colors also has an online group provided through their Facebook page for families who wish to connect in between support group meetings.

But this year has also proven to be difficult for Addy’s Colors as well.

As a young organization, Ashburn said Addy’s Colors had multiple fundraising events planned for this year. They had a sensory fair planned, but ended up canceling it. Addy’s Colors did provide care packages for families and their children.

“We are dealing with children with serious illnesses, so you don’t want them exposed to anything,” Ashburn said. “We’re hopeful for next year, but the realities of COVID did hit us really hard.”

The organization is also currently running a Childhood Cancer Awareness Month fundraiser with a goal of $500. To donate, you can visit their Facebook page.

The grief support group starts Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. For more information, you can call 804-362-8440. To sign up, click here.


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