Photo courtesy of Larry Carroll. Sarah Williams, Isabella Williams, and Larry Carroll.
A California couple who survived every parent’s worst nightmare — in April, they awoke to discover their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Savannah “Savvy” had passed away in her crib from SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Children) — have honored her memory by giving another little girl a gift of $100,000.
Savannah’s parents Larry and Carrie Carroll (who, at the time, were 8-and-a-half months pregnant with their third child) raised the money through the campaign Savannah’s Stolen Moment, which they launched on the online fundraising site Fundly. “When Savvy was alive, we made a point to create spontaneous memories with her — a surprise cookie, a trip to the playground — and we’d refer to these experiences as ‘Stolen Moments,’” Carroll, a writer, tells Yahoo Parenting. “We wanted to find a girl who resembled Savannah and give her a ‘Stolen Moment.’” The Carrolls determined that $10,000 would pay for a “Stolen Moment” of the girl’s choice (“It could be a trip to Paris or a expensive birthday party — whatever she wants,” says Larry) and the remaining amount would be directed toward her college education fund.
The Carrolls didn’t have a destination in mind — they planned to hop on a plane to “somewhere” in the country, sit in cafes, parks, or the zoo, and observe parents with their little girls. Their only goal was to find a loving family who doesn’t have the funds to provide the experience.
Photo: Facebook/Savannah Fund. Savannah Carroll
After seven months of fundraising, the Carrolls acquired more than $96,000 and on Sunday, they, along with their 6-year-old son Jack and 6-month-old son Dash, boarded a plane to Savannah, Georgia to find a lucky family. “We chose Savannah because it was not only the name of our daughter, it’s somewhere I had always wanted to take her,” says Larry. On Monday morning, the family woke up and visited parks, restaurants, and museums searching for the right family. “Along the way, we kept seeing signs that said, ‘I love Savannah,” and it felt like Savvy was with us,” says Larry.
In the late afternoon it began to rain and having still not found a family to approach, the Carrolls decided to visit Jumping Jacks, an indoor recreation center, a 30-minute drive away. “I felt as though something was guiding us in that direction,” he says. It was there that Jack met a 4-year-old girl named Isabella who was celebrating her brother’s birthday. “Isabella just walked up to Jack and said, ‘Let’s play,’” says Larry. After two hours passed, the kids were still playing, and the Carrolls decided to chat with Isabella’s mother, Sarah Williams. “We both knew that this was our family because Isabella was such a sweet little girl, just like Savannah,” says Larry. “We told Sarah about Savannah and made our offer.”
Williams, 34, a single mother of five, was initially shocked by the gesture. “I didn’t believe it,” Williams, who works for a nonprofit that offers companions to senior citizens, tells Yahoo Parenting. “They told me about their daughter and how much Isabella resembled her, and we all started crying,” she says. Williams adds, “Whenever we ask Isabella what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, ‘I want to go to college — twice!’ This money will help her achieve her goals.”
On Monday night, the two families celebrated with dinner at Applebee’s. As for Isabella’s “Stolen Moment,” it will be “somewhere with water” so Williams and her family will plan a trip to a tropical island in the upcoming months.
The Carrolls will also launch an annual fundraiser in Savannah’s name, which people can follow through the family’s Facebook and Twitter pages. “Every April — the month Savannah died — we’ll start fundraising and every November right before Thanksgiving, we’ll find another family,” says Larry. “That’s how we’ll keep our daughter alive.”