2015 SPIRIT OF ST. NICHOLAS AWARD WINNER
Love for Children – Inger Griffin
(Emily Ann Griffin Foundation)
The Emily Ann Griffin Foundation was started in 2002 after the death of Emily (pictured, below), the beautiful daughter of Matt and Inger Griffin. Anticipating the delivery of the Griffin’s third child, this mom and dad had no way of knowing that their 4 pound redheaded little girl would be a special needs child.
Emily Ann Griffin reveals her characteristically joyful smile.
She became the inspiration for the Foundation that now bears her name.
Both Inger (a pediatric nurse) and her husband Matt (an Emergency Medicine physician)
had seen their share of children with special needs. Nevertheless, they never expected that the
insurance coverage they had counted on for the care of little Emily would so often fall short when providing the recommended care/equipment. They were able to afford to purchase the most appropriate, recommended hearing aids to enable Emily to develop her language skills; they could purchase the very special baby formula, and the specialized chairs/other equipment that would enable her to sit up with assistance. But quickly the Griffin’s realized that every part of their life was affected. Inger and Matt were becoming emotionally and physically exhausted. Inger summarizes what became the most startling perspective as follows: “Our constant mantra throughout this was: ‘How do families, who do not make a physicians salary, afford to buy the necessary things for their children?’”
“It is devastating for a parent to not be able to provide the prescribed or recommended items or care for their child
because these items are so expensive.
The equipment we are able to provide through the
Emily Ann Griffin Foundation greatly enhances the lives of
the entire family with special needs children.”
A youthful supporter of the Emily Ann Griffin Foundation (pictured above) presents Inger Griffin with a personal donation of his own. E.A.G.F. receives numerous donations from individual supporters throughout the year.
In August of 2001, three weeks shy of her third birthday, Emily passed away unexpectedly while the family was on vacation. Emily Ann had contracted Legionnaires disease, a severe form of pneumonia. After their child’s funeral, the Griffin Family donated Emily’s hearing aids to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Just before Christmas 2001 Inger and Matt received a letter of thanks from the single mom, whose sole surviving daughter of a prematurely delivered twin pregnancy, had received Emily’s hearing aids. The profound gratitude reflected in that letter, and the realization that such a simple gesture could impact a family to such a significant degree, served as the inspiration for what eventually became known as the Emily Ann Griffin Foundation. “There and then,” recalls Inger, “we decided that there was no greater way to honor Emily’s life than to help families who struggle financially; families who are not able to afford the equipment, and life enhancing experiences, that would help their child thrive.”
Since the creation of the Emily Ann Griffin Foundation 13 years ago, this outstanding charitable organization has purchased: countless hearing aids for infants (above, left) and older children, wheel chair ramps, adaptive tricycles, camp scholarships, speech therapy, therapeutic horseback riding lessons (above, right), neuro-psych testing, special car seats, bandages, helmets, lift systems to aid with moving older children, child-friendly walkers (pictured below), strollers and so much more.
As Inger pensively summarizes, “Many children go without the equipment they need because their families cannot afford it, and the insurance approval process is so time consuming and overwhelming.” Having cared for a special needs child of her own, she is keenly sensitive to the unexpected financial burdens that often accompany the immediate necessity of highly specialized equipment.
Young boy (pictured below, right) gains a new found sense of mobility as he takes his specially designed ©Riften Adaptive Tricycle out for a trial spin.
Demonstrating the same self-effacing character that inspired the Emily Ann Griffin Foundation, Inger expresses her sincerest gratitude to each of her “wonderful volunteers… and generous supporters.”
“You’ve Gotta Have Heart”
“You've gotta have heart,
All you really need is heart.
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win,
That's when the grin should start.
…First you've gotta have heart!”
“You’ve Gotta Have Heart” –Song Lyrics
(From the1958 Warner Brothers Musical Comedy, “Damn Yankees”)
Although the E.A.G.F. receives numerous individual donations from supporters throughout the year, the Emily Ann Griffin Golf Classic is its major fund raising effort. Held annually on the Third Friday of September, the event attracts experienced golfers (and maybe a “duffer” or two) who have “miles and miles and miles of heart.” The golf outing begins with an18 hole "shotgun start" scramble at Idyl Wyld Golf Club in Livonia. A delectable dinner, featuring a silent auction, caps off the day’s activities.
Those who wish to participate can choose to enjoy both the Golf Classic and the Dinner and Auction, or may simply choose to make advance Dinner and Auction reservations for that evening.
Further information concerning the annual Emily Ann Griffin Golf Classic may be found at: http://www.eagf.org
The Griffin Family’s Labor of Love
“Our children Matthew, Andrew and Amanda
fulfill many roles for the foundation
from stuffing newsletters, setting up the auction
and helping during our Golf Classic outing and dinner.”
Front row: Inger (holding the family dog, Gracie), daughter, Amanda and husband, Matt.
Back row: Sons, Andrew and Matthew
“My husband, Matt, is an integral part of our foundation.
While my team and I do the day-to-day work,
he is busy working as an emergency physician
at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
He gives freely of his time, medical expertise and support
to all areas of the foundation and the families that receive assistance.”