ST. IGNATIUS - It’s a story of loss but also one of compassion and hope.
A young family who lost their infant son is honoring him by helping other families facing difficult medical situations and in that way, the memory of their own baby boy will never fade.
A photo of a tiny baby wrapped in blue sits on the front desk of the Ronald McDonald House in Missoula, capturing one moment of a precious few.
“We had previously been that I couldn’t have children, so he was kind of a miracle,” recalled Sarah Dempsey.
Neomiah Dempsey was born on March 14, 2017, with gastroschisis. It wasn’t a bad case, but he needed immediate abdominal surgery to fix it. Sarah and Sam — who live in Saint Ignatius — were able to get a room at the Ronald McDonald House while their son was in the NICU.
“Right next door every time he needs a feeding or diaper change, we were able to do that. I told the nurse I did not want anyone but me or his dad to care for him...unless medically necessary,” Sarah said. “So, every two hours, we would go over and he was never without us.”
Neomiah was in the NICU for 24 days and things were going well; the family had no way of knowing what would come next.
"We took him home after 24 days. And we had a baby shower, people got to meet him. We went to an Easter egg hunt and a softball game and that was all he got to see,” Sarah said. “And then he just stopped breathing. "
Neomiah died at 3:15 in the morning on Easter Sunday from complications. But the story does not end there as Sarah and Sam were determined to do something to honor Neomiaha’s life.
"I wanted to do something I wanted to do something that was not just a small family barbeque,” Sarah said. “I wanted something big and something that he’d be remembered by. Sam said, ‘let’s do it for the people who helped us the most’.”
“They provide a home for you when you’re away from yours so that is the greatest thing,” Sam told MTN News.
Sarah and Sam will be once again hosting their annual Neomiah Dempsey Memorial Ronald McDonald fundraiser.
The big community event that raises more and more money every year will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Good Ol' Days Park in Saint Ignatius Park. Their goal this year is to raise $9,000 and keep Neomiah's memory alive.
"You die two times. The first is when your day comes and the second is the first time no one brings your name up. and I do not ever want my son to die again. I do not want him to not be remembered,” Sarah concluded.
The benefit will begin with a silent auction starting at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a live auction beginning at 4 p.m. There is also a free dinner and a band and other family fun.