Family of Boy Killed in Lawn Mower Accident Turns Grief into Kindness
WEBSTER, N.Y. -- The family of a three-year-old boy who died in a tragic lawnmower accident is opening up about their heartache.
Anne Marie Heiligman and her husband A.J. say their lives changed forever last month when paramedics from North East Quadrant Advanced Life Support arrived to help their son, Jack.
“To be honest, it was such a blur when all of this happened," said Heiligman. "All I really remember is all of them running into the backyard, and obviously saw Jack, and that it was too late to do anything, but they went right into support mode.”
She says that support is coming from all over and helping them cope with their unthinkable loss.
“Every day is a gift," Heiligman said. "We never thought in a million years that this would be our story. Jack was our first-born. He was the love of our life. We spent every moment with him. We miss him dearly and now we’re just focused on keeping his memory and his spirit alive.”
That spirit can be seen throughout the community in the form of signs and buildings lit up in blue, Jack's favorite color.
The family is also keeping his memory alive through the JACK Foundation.
“In an unfortunate way it gave us a platform to do good things with this, and do it in Jack’s name," Heiligman said. "So we want to make him proud, and we don’t want anybody to forget him. And we’re going to use his life to make good things happen.”
The foundation is raising money to build playgrounds in the theme of dinosaurs -- one of Jack’s favorite things.
They hope the spaces will not only keep his memory alive, but also allow others to build their own memories.
“Fun, laughter, enjoying life," she said. "Enjoying every small moment, and thinking about Jack.”
They also hope people will participate in the JACK Challenge to spread random acts of kindness, like donating blood, or food baskets for first responders. After completing an act of kindness, participants can paint their nails blue and upload photos with the hashtag #BlueforJackJames. It’s kindness gone viral.
“We wish more than anything that Jack was still here with us and could see all the wonderful things that are happening for him and because of him," Heiligman said. "So we just want to continue that.”