HANCOCK COUNTY — A program dedicated to helping families heal after the loss of a child has expanded thanks to the fundraising efforts of a Hancock County family.
The Hope in Healing program at Riley Hospital for Children, which provides grief support through counseling, phone calls, support groups and educational materials, is now able to offer art and music therapy with funding from Peyton’s Promise, an organization that hosts its biggest annual fundraiser in Greenfield.
Peyton’s Promise started in memory of Peyton Belling, who died in 2015 at age 3 from complications of leukemia; Greenfield resident Heather O’Neal and her daughter, Tandess, friends of the Belling family, began organizing fundraisers to benefit the organization in 2015.
Those fundraisers have brought in $26,500 since the charity’s inception; and the nonprofit’s leaders have set a goal of $15,000 for an upcoming golf outing to help them continue their mission.
Created in 2009, Hope in Healing has helped more than 1,000 families deal with the loss of a child. Molly Belling, mother of Peyton, and her family, found a lifeline in the therapy and counseling provided by the program. Belling tried visiting other therapists without specialized grief training but felt like they didn’t understand what her family was feeling.
Thanks to the funding from fundraisers organized by the O’Neal family, Hope in Healing has expanded its offerings to provide additional grief counseling in the form of art and music therapy for children mourning the loss of a sibling, said Elizabeth Boring, Riley Hospital for Children coordinator of bereavement services.
She said therapists at the Hope in Healing program receive training specifically for working with grieving parents and siblings.
“A parent losing a child is very specific,” she said. “It’s not just the child they lose but their hopes and dreams for that child and the future they envisioned for the child and their family.”
These types of therapy are particularly helpful for children, because it allows them to focus on something else while talking about their loss and grief, Boring said.
Belling, who lives in Fishers, started Peyton’s Promise shortly after her son’s death to help other families dealing with the loss of a child.
In the first year of the organization’s existence, it raised $11,500 to re-establish a memory box program at Riley. When Peyton died, there weren’t enough kits for nurses to make molds of his hands and feet, a precious keepsake for mourning families, Belling said. When they took home their son’s molds, they had to wrap the plaster impressions in a blanket.
“We got a hand mold, and it didn’t come out quite right,” she said. “Even so, it would be devastating to lose.”
That money from the first golf outing, held at Arrowhead Golf Course in Greenfield, was enough to keep the protective memory boxes and molds stocked for two years. With the comfort of knowing parents who have lost a child at Riley won’t walk out the doors without that precious memory, Peyton’s Promise turned its focus to the Hope in Healing program.
“It’s really critical that people are able to get the support they need,” Molly Belling said. “It wasn’t something we considered; we were kind of lost. We want to make sure that program continues for others who don’t know where to turn.”
The O’Neals of Greenfield have been a big part of assuring those services are available. When she was just a middle school student, Tandess O’Neal thought up starting a golf outing to support the Bellings, her mother, Heather O’Neal, said.
It’s an effort that has been inspiring to watch grow.
“It does warm our hearts to help,” she said.
Peyton’s Promise, an organization started in memory of Peyton Belling, who died at age 3 after a battle with leukemia, provides support to parents who have lost a child. The effort is supported every year by fundraisers held in Greenfield. Here’s how to join this year’s event:
What: Third-annual Peyton’s Promise Golf Outing
When: 11:30 a.m. lunch; shotgun start at 1 p.m. June 10
Where: Arrowhead Golf Course, 3974 Club House Drive, Greenfield
Registration, which includes lunch, a golf cart, T-shirt and goody bag, is $65 per person or $260 per team. Register by visiting peytonspromiseinc.org or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; registrations may be sent to:
Peyton’s Promise Inc.
14091 Hearthwood Drive,
Fishers, IN 46040