May 5, 2023
Sandy’s Story: A Journey of Loss and Resilience
In 2012, Sandy’s life was turned upside down. While visiting Illinois for her nephew’s wedding, she received a call from her husband. Her son had been in an accident that resulted in his hospitalization. Sandy noticed the concern in her husband’s voice so she quickly contacted her daughter to help her find a flight back home. She struggled to get a flight back due to the short notice, but was able to arrive back in Phoenix the following night.
Once Sandy arrived in Phoenix, her daughter-in-law picked her up and drove her to the hospital. She explained that her son had been seriously burned and had to be put on life-support. Once she arrived at the hospital, she first saw her husband, still in shock, looking exhausted and concerned.
“My husband said to me, ‘don’t get too close, these are the only clothes I have, I don’t have a toothbrush or a comb, and I haven’t taken a shower since yesterday morning.’ He said, ‘everything we have is gone’.”
That is when her husband explained what had happened to her son and the severity. He was caught in an explosion at their house, later it was discovered it was due to a faulty furnace that exploded and caused the tragedy. Her son had received burns on 99% of his body and was in a medically induced coma.
“His whole body was burned and wrapped up, the only part of him that wasn’t burned was a small toe on his right foot which we were able to kiss and say goodbye. The staff at the hospital gave part of his burnt shirt sleeve to us to remember him by…to this day I keep that small piece of sleeve with me at all times…”
Sandy still remembers the kindness and support that Dr. Foster and the nurses in the Burn Unit showed her and her family.
“They would make sure that we would eat, even though it was the last thing in our mind, they made sure we were staying healthy. Even as far as regularly checking if we needed anything, they were there with so much kindness and love.”
After two days, the doctors informed them that there was nothing more they could do.
“We were told they would take him off life support when we wanted to. It was the hardest part my husband and I had to go through. They told us at the hospital that he would go very fast. So we prayed all together and told the doctor we were ready to take him off life support..”
Sandy’s son passed away shortly after.
The Arizona Burn Foundation soon reached out to them and provided as much support as possible. Shortly after, they invited Sandy and her family to the ABF office. There she got a chance to meet staff members, volunteers, burn survivors, and others going through similar situations. She also got the chance to learn a bit more about what the foundation does and the type of impact it has in Arizona.
“I could see the different workers in the office put their heart and soul into the work they do to help burn survivors and those who have lost a loved one.”
In 2015, Sandy and her family set up a memorial brick cross in the Arizona Burn Foundation’s office. A cross that her and her family often visit.
Soon after, Sandy and her daughter-in-law started to volunteer with the Arizona Burn Foundation. They started participating in the Milo & Moxie: Smart Safety Rangers™ program, where they got to read the Milo & Moxie books to young children.
Now retired, Sandy frequently volunteers her time in the office. She helps prepare for Smoke Alarm Walks and calls schools and fire departments to offer free Milo & Moxie books. She has become one of the greatest advocates for preventive measures around their communities, sharing her story along the way. Since the beginning of 2023, Sandy has been a driving force in the Milo & Moxie programs as well as a part of the ABF family.
“We were able to set up a memorial for him at a place where there are dedicated people who bring joy to your heart and your family with what they do,” Sandy said. “The ABF is like a second family to us.”
We thank Sandy for being the amazing person that she is. We are sure that her son would be immensely proud of what she is doing.