In 2010 to honor our son, on his Five Year Angel Anniversary, we formed the Johnny M Foundation. It was our hope that with this foundation his memory would live on longer than his three short years. Hopefully with all of our family, friends and business associates that we would be able to raise monies to provide support, encouragement and some fun to young children that are faced with difficult life challenges and would otherwise not be given the chance.
Our very first project in 2006 even before we stared the foundation was to furnish, decorate and sponsor a family suite at the Ronald McDonald house in Camden. We decided that since the last place that Johnny visited and died was Universal Studios in Orlando Florida that it would only be fitting to do a Nickelodeon theme. All children love SpongeBob and it was unisex. After that was completed we continue our support personally and through the foundation by participating in the Give 365 program every year. This campaign sponsors one family a night for $15.00 or $5,475.00 annually to cover the expenses while the family stays at the Ronald McDonald House.
Our second project in 2011 was to construct an indoor toddler’s playroom. We had originally wanted an outdoor playground but because of the location it was decided it would be better suited indoors. We named it Johnny’s Clubhouse. A place where children up to age five can play in a safe environment and have fun to forget about their illness or treatments for a little while. There is also an area for the parents to sit and relax, read or watch television to relieve some of their stress.
Our third project in 2012 was to purchase a second home for an organization called For Pete’s Sake, a cancer respite foundation. This organization sends a family away for a week’s stay, all expenses paid to just be a family and take a break from cancer. They can make lasting memories, have fun and not worry about their sometimes terminal illness. FPS owned one home but they had to turn many families away because they couldn’t accommodate all the families in need. We decided how wonderful it would be to purchase another home in Johnny’s name in Orlando, the last place our whole family was for a wonderful vacation.
Our final project was started in 2013 and will not be completely funded until 2017. (We hope) Our commitment is for $750,000 to Cooper Hospital for The Johnny M Child Life Center. The Life Center will consist of complete renovation of the child play area and the parents retreat on the 7th floor. Part of this venture is introducing music and art to children as a form of therapy, along with computer and recreational programs for pediatric patients. It is all of our hope that construction should begin in the first half of 2015. Johnny touched so many lives in the short amount of time that he was here with us, that it is my sincere hope and prayer as his mom, that with all of these projects that Johnny will not only be that little boy who suddenly died, but hopefully make a difference in some way in the life of a little girl or boy.
I heard it once said, “to whom much is given, much is required.” I believe it is all of our duty to support young people and those dealing with medical conditions with the basic essentials of life which is happiness. With Johnny’s passing, we would like to preserve his memory by helping others. He touched so many lives while he was here with his beautiful smile and funny personality. With the help from all of you, Johnny’s memory will live on for a very long time, and he will continue to touch many more lives.