Alexa Morgan Sheriff never met her angels.
But they weren't far away when Alexa spread her own tiny baby angel wings and saved the lives of two other infants.
On May 14, 2012, Alexa was born, a much-anticipated, full-size 7-plus pounder, who joined parents Dan and Jen Sheriff and big brother Aaron. The doctor had sensed something was wrong and ordered tests. The otherwise healthy baby had no brain stem activity. Her grieving family spent five days cuddling and rocking Alexa in the St. Francis Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The Sheriffs had a difficult decision when life support was stopped. The Donor Alliance representative told them there were two families awaiting donor organs and hoping their babies could have a chance at a normal life. The Sheriffs realized they could help those families and give themselves a chance to start healing.
One baby received Alexa's heart, the other her liver.
As the Sheriffs went about putting their lives back together, the idea for Alexa's Angels was born. So many friends and family asked what they could do. And it wasn't just kind words.
Jen, one of four owners of Planet Hair, is close friends with her longtime clients. The three other salon owners - Melynda Pasquariello, Teresa Kabela Francis and Kim Mitchell - as well as Jen's clients, friends and the other stylists in the salon had been with her every step of the pregnancy and were devastated when Alexa died. Like them, Dan's golfing buddies wanted to do something to help, too.
On May 17, a year after Alexa's birth and death, the first Alexa's Angels benefit took over Valley Hi Golf Course for a golf tournament to raise more than $9,000 to "raise awareness of the benefits of organ donation" and to help with expenses for the donor families and the memorial services, Jen said. The money will be split with the NICU for items such as heart rate monitors and medication pumps.
"Thank you to the amazing nurses and the people from Donor Alliance who have become part of our family," Jen told the crowd of volunteers and family wearing angels on their shirts. Aaron stepped up and added, "Thank you for doing this for us."