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These are responses from Committee Members when asked:
“Why do you want an Angel of Hope Memorial Garden in Tampa Bay
and what does it mean to you?”


It means everything because of the fact my child died of cancer.  You do not see a Cancer Victim Memorial anywhere, yet there is a Cancer Survivor’s Park.  Additionally, my child was cremated and while her ashes are home with me, there is nowhere for the friends and family that are still devastated by her death to go to honor her.  It means everything to me.
Dawn Cepero
Mother of Caylee

When George and I made our first trip to the BP National Gathering in St Louis two years ago, we had the opportunity to visit the AOH Memorial in St. Charles, MO.  It was such a moving experience for both of us.  We felt such peace and comfort in that place.  I knew then that I must be a part of the committee working to bring an Angel to the Tampa Bay Area.  As soon as we returned from that trip we joined the small group who are trying to make this a reality for the Tampa area.  I know that others who have lost children, grandchildren or siblings will receive the same good feelings from visiting the Angel of Hope Memorial Gardens in Temple Terrace, FL.
Jackie Loadholtz

My son, Vince, is buried in Tennessee where he lived with his wife and son. I have no grave site where I can go to feel close to his remains. Although I do travel to Tenn. and always go to his grave site, I don’t get there but a couple of times a year.

The AOH would be my place to go to visit with him in town. It would somehow represent his parting to me here in Tampa. I think it would bring me much peace and feel like I am at the grave site only from Tampa. I know this probably doesn’t make much sense but if you are a Mom that has lost a child I know you will understand as we all do that have had children die, that sometimes there are things that only we understand (the Moms and Dads that have lost children).

Geri Mattera

The memorial garden gives us a place to go to honor our daughter and granddaughter as our daughter is interred in New Orleans and our granddaughter’s body was donated to research in order to help someone else. This garden will afford us the opportunity to honor and celebrate their lives and it will be a place for us that they will be together, a place to cherish their time here on earth and a place of celebration not sadness. A place where their names will be immortal and they will always be remembered.
Ben & Sue Bowditch and family

I feel it’s important for one to have a place to go to share ones grief. The AOH Memorial Garden should be a refuge for those who share the pain of losing a child. This garden should be a tribute to all those children loved and missed by so many.
Cookie Fernandez

Just as John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me,” our lives are diminished, and we are left without hope for we are the parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and friends of a precious child we can no longer hold. We search for “whys,” and we hope our child’s life will never be forgotten. Thus, we are emboldened by the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden and the memorial bricks that will surround our Angel, for in the words enscribed on those bricks, there is “hope” each of our children’s lives will be validated. My beautiful granddaughter, Caylee, was only four when she left us, but her short life was such a gift.

She touched all who knew her, but we are left without the promise of what her life might have been. So in our Caylee’s precious memory, my “hope” is that for each person who visits the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden, one more driver might slow down on the road, one more researcher might search deeper for a cure, one more CEO might give more value to a life that might be saved than to dollars that might be saved, and one more parent might hug his child each and every day.

Sandy Boehning
Caylee’s grandma

As I kissed my little daughter good bye, I promised that the new baby and I would soon be home.  Going to the hospital I was happy and looking forward to the future. My world soon went from one of promise to one of feeling like everything was wrong. My son, Douglas, was born and then just  9 hours 27 minutes later died. It has been a long time, almost 39 years, and though my life has been full, holding many blessings, there will always be a piece of my heart missing…Douglas’ piece. I try to live my life in honor of the son I never got to hold or know or see grow up. I look forward to the AOH Memorial Garden as it will offer a place where I can go to think about my son and feel comfort in the beauty of Gods surroundings. Knowing Douglas is already in an eternal garden waiting for us is one of my life’s sweetest blessings.
Martha Hayes
Douglas’ Mom

My son Tyler Wade was buried in Springdale Arkansas so having the AOH Memorial Garden would give me a place where I could go and visit him and feel close to him. And also it would be a place where we could all feel at peace. It means a lot to me that is why I am on the committee to help try and get it here in the Tampa Bay area.
Tammy Hill

My reason for wanting the Angel of Hope in Tampa
Our son, Darek Wade Leyde, is the reason I became a member of the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden, Tampa Bay.  Darek died April 23, 2003 at the age of 35, after valiantly battling metastatic melanoma of the brain.  He had lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for 18 years and wanted his ashes to be scattered in the mountains he loved so much and at our family home in Spokane, Washington.  A parent’s biggest fear after the death of their child is that their child will be forgotten.  Our fear is even greater because of the fact that Darek was in college when we moved to Tampa.  He came home often, but never lived here so only our close friends got to know him.  Our family would very much like a place to honor and remember him in Tampa.    The Angel of Hope Memorial Garden will be such a place.  The Garden will mean different things to different families.  It will be a place of solace to quietly talk to our loved one; to shed a few tears, but to also remember all of the happy times spent together or a place to celebrate a birthday or special occasion together.  It will have many meanings for all of the families who have lost a loved one.   Most importantly, we are anticipating that the Angel of Hope will be able to convey a feeling of HOPE!
Julie Leyde


Angel of Hope Memorial Garden
is a Florida 501(c)(3) Corporation.