About the Eric and Ava Benton Joy-Hope Foundation

The Eric and Ava Benton Joy-Hope Foundation was formed following the separate deaths of the Benton Family's two infant children due to mitochondrial disease. The Joy-Hope Foundation is a private not for profit, 501(C)(3) approved foundation whose goal is to Have Joy and Spread Hope:
    Have Joy by providing families who are grieving the death of their child as the result of a medical condition with a new memory making getaway.
    Spread Hope by financially supporting research, education and awareness of Mitochondrial Diseases.

Following the death of our firstborn, Eric at the age of 4 months, a family friend generously gave us the opportunity to get away It was during that point in our grief that we felt an amazing sense of relief to be "out of the fish bowl". It was during that trip that we were able to focus on each other and process some of what just happened to us.

Ava was born 3 days shy of Eric's 6th birthday. On his birthday, we discovered that she did not pass her newborn hearing screen, like her brother. We started on our journey to research and try to discover what exactly happened to Eric and if there would be anyway that we could "save" Ava. As we did with Eric, Allan and I sat by Ava's bedside in the PICU from November 11-December 18, 2009. While we prayed that she would not be as severely harmed as her brother, we knew that there was nothing that we could do, but love her, advocate for her and help our 3 surviving children navigate the spider web of emotions and experiences that we were about to face. We were totally supported by the community around us, financially, emotionally, spiritually. Our three daughters, then 5 year old twins and a 2 year old, we cared for, fed and loved. Sitting by Ava's bedside, we knew that the Joy-Hope Foundation would come to be.

Through Eric's life and death we learned to find Joy amidst sorrow.
Through Ava's we learned about finding Hope through despair.

Dealing with the financial and emotional stress of having a critically ill child takes a toll on the whole family. Having experienced the death of a child before, we knew that we would need to focus on our family and regroup after her death. We had no idea how we would afford a trip. We did not know when we would be able to go. We knew that we would need to getaway, be together and try to redefine our family as it exists today. The community overwhelmed us in January, 2010 by pulling together a fundraiser that sent us on our "New Memory Making Getaway". It was a welcome break in the midst of our grief to focus each other. As stated by one of our five year olds, "We were so sad. Then we went away. That cheered us up. We didn't even think about Ava in Heaven all the time. We just thought about meeting princesses." After living through such an emotionally devastating and financially difficult experience, the chance to reconnect with our family and focus on each other was such a blessing. It was not something we ever would have been able to afford. It was something we needed to do.

Our family is honored and excited to have the opportunity to provide a grieving family with the same opportunity to have a little bit of joy amidst the relentless sorrow. As one of our five year olds said, "I am so happy that we have the Foundation so we can make another family happy and send them on a vacation."

Our Mission:
The Eric and Ava Benton Joy-Hope Foundation exists to support grieving families whose child died from terminal illness by providing a "New Memory Making Getaway", and to support research, education and awareness for Mitochondrial Diseases.