Remembering Drake

By on May 25, 2014
Drake in April 2011

Drake in April 2011

Special birthday celebration at Total Sports Experience on June 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. remembers young child’s favorite things

When a parent loses a child, the loss is profound and far-reaching. This loss impacts not only parents, but siblings, grandparents, extended family members and friends.

Jaime and Brian Pettit know all too well how this loss affects a family. In June 2012, a tragic accident at their home resulted in the drowning of their four-year-old son, Drake. This heart wrenching accident left a void in their family, but through their grieving, the Pettit family knew they wanted to provide help to other families and most importantly, honor Drake’s memory.

Through her family’s grieving process, Jaime Pettit discovered there were very few organizations to assist families who had lost children. She knew she wanted to help others who have experienced a similar loss. One year after their son’s death, with the help of her sister, Haverly Erskine, they created a non-profit organization and Dreams from Drake was born.  The goal of this organization is to provide programs and services to help children, teens and parents who had suffered the loss of a loved one.

“When Drake passed, I felt like I was struck by lightning. People reached out to us and offered so much. Co-workers made meals for us, friends helped us by getting our children to their different activities and people sent us cards and books. We went through counseling and therapy and we also networked and developed relationships with other families who experienced a similar loss. I knew how much this meant to me and I wanted to help others,” Jaime explained.

Helping others heal
Coping with the death of a loved one is a progression and the grieving process is personal and unique for each person, no matter what their age. As a way to help children express and cope with their grief, Pettit and Erskine developed the idea of hosting support groups called Healing Circles of Hope. These monthly support groups provide children with a way to communicate with and gain support from other children who have experienced a similar loss, and also take part in social activities and events. The sessions usually begin with a therapist-led session followed by a fun activity. Healing Circles have included outings to art studios, soccer games, frozen yogurt shops and music studios.
“It is a lot of work to go through those feelings and emotions during the therapy sessions so that’s why we follow up a fun activity after the session. But it is healing to be other families and interact with children who have experienced a similar loss. Children and teens can join us at no cost to the family,” Pettit explained.

Celebrating Drake
On June 1, 2014, Drake Pettit would have been six-years-old. He loved sock monkeys, rainbows and pirates. This year, the Pettit family wishes to celebrate Drake’s birthday with the community and invites families to share in this remembrance of their son.
Dreams from Drake will host a birthday bash at Total Sports Experience on June 1 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. This event is free, open to the public and will include activities loved by Drake. Donations are welcome and activities include a bounce house, fire trucks from area fire departments will be on display, a DJ, crafts, face painting, games, raffles, Zoo mobile and much more. All donations and funds raised will support the Dreams from Drake Foundation.
“We planned this event with the thought of celebrating all things family and invite people to enjoy an afternoon of togetherness,” Erskine said.

Summer fun at camp
The Dreams from Drake Foundation will host Monroe County’s first ever bereavement camp for children on Friday, June 27 at Nazareth College. The one-day camp is free and open to children of all ages and will include therapy sessions, such as yoga, art, music and play in both indoor and outdoor classrooms. Children will be organized in age groups with age-appropriate activities.
“We are working with graduate students from Nazareth College’s Social Work Department to develop the day’s activities. At the end of the day, we are inviting all the families to come together for a balloon release in memory of our loved ones,” Pettit said.

Remembering Drake
Pettit and Erskine describe Drake as an affectionate, kind, persistent, and funny, little boy.  Drake’s passing deeply impacted his siblings, Trevor, age 9; Delaney, age 7; and Tiernan, age 3. They actively participate in the foundation’s events and partake in sessions as outlets. Sharing is caring was one of Drake’s favorite sayings and in everything the Pettit family does, this is what they remember.

“We talk about Drake daily and we are working to live healthy, happy and productive lives as we keep Drake’s memory alive. This is what has helped us and we are driven by this goal,” Pettit said.

When asked about his brother Drake, little Tiernan said, “Drake is in heaven and in my heart.”

The Dreams for Drake Foundation offers a host of programs and services available to families. For more information about Dreams from Drake, visit the website, or visit the Facebook Page named Dreams from Drake and can also be followed on Twitter @ dreamsfromdrake.

Provided photo