Friends helping children try to recover from loss of mom


(Submitted photo)

Published: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.

It was Bayleigh's idea to bury her mother's ashes with a Mickey Mouse plush toy.

Facts

How you can help

An account has been established in Dawn Ewing's name that will benefit her children and the grandparents who are now their guardians. If you would like to help, go to any PNC Bank and donate to the Ewing Memorial Fund.

Before leaving for Indiana, the 5-year-old and her two siblings — Logan, 9, and Alicia, 12 — each got a Mickey Mouse doll from the American Red Cross.

Two weeks ago, their mother, Dawn Ewing, 42, was killed when a 10-ton oak tree fell on the bedroom of the mobile home where Ewing and her boyfriend, Michael Braton, 40, were sleeping.

Braton, who is still recovering from injuries he received in the accident, got a Mickey Mouse, too.

“(Bayleigh) asked if mommy could have one, and the Red Cross said, 'Absolutely,' ” the children's temporary caretaker Matt Hogsed said. “The toy helps them to always have a connection with Dawn and Mike.”

The children stayed with Hogsed and his family for six days after the Nov. 13 accident at 6904 SW 33rd Place. On Nov. 18, Hogsed flew with the kids to Tippecanoe, Ind., and dropped them off at their grandparents' house, he said.

In the time they had together, the Hogseds noticed the children have missed out on some experiences. They had never been to a beach. Or had an Icee. Or eaten Southern barbeque.

“I said one day I wanted some Starbucks, and Alicia told me she had never had Starbucks,” Hogsed said. “I said, 'We have to go right now,' so we went and I got her a frappuccino. She liked it so much, she asked me to get her another one at the airport.”

The Hogseds took them to play on a beach and eat at Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q, where the kids “ate like they had never eaten before,” he said.

In a way, the family and the three children made a bucket list to distract themselves from the pain of losing their mother, he said.

Beside easing the kids' minds, Hogsed and his wife also have taken care of getting Ewing's remains to Indiana and are taking care of Braton's financial affairs to make sure he doesn't get into debt while he's still recovering.

Braton was transported to the UF Health Shands Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday, where he will be on kidney dialysis, Hogsed said.

The couple has also set up an account in Ewing's name that will benefit her children and the grandparents who are now their guardians. So far, about $2,300 has been donated for the children, he said.

Combined, the Hogseds, the Red Cross and Wiles Elementary School also have donated 13 bags and three large boxes full of clothes and toys for the children.

“It was six days of crying, laughing and being a family with those kids,” Hogsed said. “It has been as rewarding as it was stressful, but it was worth every moment.”

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