Local couple start heart-warming non-profit foundation
Idea for fundraiser came in wake of enduring unthinkable tragedies
Even during the darkest, stormiest days, a slim ray of sunshine sometimes manages to find a seam in the blackish-gray clouds and work its way through the gloom, offering hope to those who need it most.
Ashley Melnick and Nick Batt dated briefly as students at Plymouth High School before graduating in 2012. Their mutual interest in one another was rekindled a few years later when their paths crossed at Michigan State University – only this relationship turned out to be the real deal.
The couple married in 2019 and months later learned Ashley was pregnant with a boy.
The Batts were living a real-life fairy tale.
Then the most ominous clouds imaginable rolled in.
Bryson Batt was born Aug. 5, 2020. On Sept. 5, 2020, he passed away from a genetic condition.
Still grieving from the loss of their first-born son and with assurance from medical professionals that the disease that took Bryson was random, the Batts learned in 2021 that Ashley was pregnant with another son.
In remembrance of Bryson’s first birthday on Aug. 5, 2021, the Batts asked family and friends to donate items – rattles, board books and food delivery gift cards – that could be used to comfort parents at Detroit Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit who were caring for their gravely ill babies.
“The response we received from our family and friends was amazing,” Ashley shared. “People donated so much. It seemed like we had Amazon boxes on our porch every day.”
Baker Batt was born March 8, 2022. He passed away six weeks later from the same condition that took his older brother.
“Nick and I didn’t know we were carriers (of the gene that caused their sons’ fatal condition) and at first, after Bryson was born, we were told it was random,” Ashley said. “But obviously it wasn’t because it happened again. Doctors may never be able to determine the gene that caused it, but they’ve told us it was definitely a genetic condition and it was super-rare.”
On July 19, the Batts announced the official creation of the Bryson and Baker Batt Foundation, a 501c3 that will support families going through challenging times, specifically NICU families and families that don’t get to take their babies home.
It’s their ray of sunshine breaking through an unimaginable grieving process to comfort hurting parents.
“When Bryson was born, we knew we wanted to do something (along the lines of a foundation to help grieving parents) but our hearts just weren’t in the right place because we were so heavy in the grieving,” Ashley Batt said. “Once Baker was born and we knew the diagnosis and the outcome, we knew we wanted to do something more formal as a way people could make donations. We thought a non-profit would be a good way to honor our sons.
“We’ve already received a lot of donations. People have told us how proud they are of us for doing this and that they can’t wait to see where it goes.”
Ashley said her and Nick are grateful beyond words for the support they’ve received in the wake of their sons’ deaths.
“We have a huge support network of family and friends,” she said. “The NICU nurses have become like family to us as well. Through the good and bad moments in the hospital, they were always there to provide a shoulder to cry on and to give us hugs when we needed them. When we were in pain, we could see they were in pain, too. They’re superheroes, even though they won’t ever admit it.”
The Batts said money raised through the foundation will help fund a variety of items for families of NICU patients.
“Along with items like board books and food delivery gift cards, we want to provide remembrance boxes for NICU families who lose a baby,” she said. “The boxes will include items like books about loss, the babies’ handprints and footprints and a list of resources they can turn to after experiencing loss.
“We found the food delivery cards are especially helpful because when your baby is hospitalized it’s so mentally and physically draining, when you do go home the last thing you feel like doing is cooking.”
The Batts said the foundation is actually therapeutic for them as they journey through the grieving process.
“Knowing that we’re helping parents who are going through what we’ve gone through, it’s a form of healing for us,” Ashley said. “We know what a lonely journey it can be because not many people can relate to what you’re going through.”
In a Facebook post that announced the foundation, Ashley and Nick wrote:
“To our boys – We are so proud to be your parents. This would not be possible without you both in our lives. You showed us strength, courage, and inspiration for our life and we will honor you each and every day. We wish you were in our arms more than anything, but you’ll forever be in our hearts and now forever represented through the nonprofit.”
To donate to the Bryson and Baker Batt Foundation, visit: https://www.brysonandbakerbattfoundation.com/.
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