Liz Lorch Riley '99 and her husband, Brendan, a York Center firefighter and also from Lombard, recently started Riley Bears, after their third child, Riley, was stillborn on July 6, 2016 due to unknown causes. It has been a dream for Liz and her family for some time to find a way to help others who have suffered from stillbirth. They wanted to provide a way to offer families of child loss comfort and support for their living children. After their own experience, Liz and Brendan found that there was little support or help for siblings of loss. One of the most helpful things for Riley's brothers, Declan and Ronan, were books and bears they received at the hospital after their sister was stillborn. This was a small gesture, but a step towards healing.
Liz said "I wish I could say our tragedy was isolated, but stillbirth has affected several close friends and I have met many families in our community. Many struggle to parent and help their living kids heal after loss. After being there for two friends, at different hospitals, I found they did not offer the same support for siblings of loss that we received". Thus, the idea of Riley Bears came along. "It is our dream to honor Riley by providing area hospitals with books and bears to give to siblings to help comfort them during a traumatic and often scary time in their little lives. Our hope is to help lessen the burden on families and bring a little bit of light to their darkness.
Through the establishment of Riley Bears, the O'Leary family has already provided 72 bears and 25 books with plans to order more books and distribute them before Christmas. "We hope to make this a yearly donation." To learn more about Riley Bears click here.