On June 16th, 2011 our lives were forever changed. While out of town visiting family, our sweet 3.75 year old boy, Ayden, fell into a swimming pool. Erin was the first one in the pool after him, and Darryl jumped over the side to help. Darryl jumped out of the pool, called 911 immediately and started CPR. Darryl did CPR until the Slidell Fire Department arrived and took over. Ayden was rushed to Slidell Memorial Hospital where the doctors finally got his heart beating again. Despite everything that we, the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, nurses, and doctors did to save him, Ayden’s brain went without oxygen for too long and he was pronounced brain dead on June 17th, 2011 at Northshore Ochsner Hospital. God had other plans for Ayden and our family.
Nothing could prepare us for the death of our child. Ayden isn’t just our son. He has an older brother, Caleb, a younger sister, Kaelyn, and a new brother named Jett that he never got to hold. Caleb was just five days away from turning 6 years old when his little brother and best friend went to Heaven. Death was completely new to him. He didn’t understand why Ayden just couldn’t get out of the hospital bed and come home. Only through pictures and videos will Kaelyn, who was only 2 months old at the time of the accident, and Jett, who he never got to hold, come to know their sweet and precious big brother. Ayden was so excited to have a little sister and he loved her so much. We just WISH we had the chance to watch our four kiddos grow up together. But that isn’t our choice.
We know because of what the Bible promises that our Ay-man is in Heaven and we WILL be with him again! We have hope in Jesus Christ because of what He did on the cross and we want to share that hope with every family this ministry is able to be a blessing to. This life is painful and temporary, and will get to be with Ayden again in Heaven for eternity! It is our Hope and prayer that we are able to share our Hope in Christ with every family that loses a child and we are able to reach.
When this ministry first began, we did not expect it to become what is has turned into. We just wanted to be a light and share our Hope with a few local families as we came across them. But the Lord has blessed our efforts in more ways that we can imagine. He has allowed this ministry to reach hundreds of families across the United States, and around the world, with more thousands and thousands of dollars being raised.
This ministry first began as a family effort. Ayden’s grandfather, Pops, or Michael Harrigan, was a huge part of this ministry. He was a pastor at Community Baptist Church in Slidell, LA and really helped us get this ministry going. He loved Ayden so much, and Ayden looked up to him in a way that is indescribable. Unfortunately, Pops passed away on August 29th, 2015 at the young age of 59, just two days before his 60th birthday. We miss our Pops dearly, but are comforted by the fact that he and Ayden are walking the streets of gold together. What a site that must be!
Our Community Baptist Church family has been a HUGE support and help to this ministry. They have helped at each and every fundraiser we have held and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the helping hands they’ve given. We are beyond blessed by their unconditional support and love.
Currently, Darryl works full time as an air traffic controller in New Orleans, and Erin owns a photography business in town while raising the littles at home and being the “taxi”. 😉 Life is busy, but not too busy to make a difference in the lives of these families who need it most!
Thank you for taking the time to read our story, and we only ask that you pray for all families that lose a child. If you know of a family that could use a “Package of Hope” as we like to call them, please click on the contact tab.
Darryl and Erin Phillips
“That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the HOPE of eternal life.”