Donor stories: Two good hearts deserve another

2010 Heart of Gold recipients Louanna and Chuck Eggert with a symbol of their "guardian angel."

Chuck and Louanna Eggert remember the moment as clear as day. They were visiting their daughter Emily when Chuck reached out and gently touched her tummy.

For the first time ever, 7-year-old Emily laughed.

"I can remember writing in our Christmas letter what a miracle this was," Louanna recalls.

Emily, the couple's fourth child, lived at the Center for Medically Fragile Children at Providence Child Center, which provides around-the-clock care to children with profound disabilities.

Family, friends and caregivers talk about Emily's legacy.
Her care inspired the Eggerts to give to the center over the years with their time, generosity and leadership.

Chuck, founder of Pacific Natural Foods, serves on Providence Child Center Foundation's board of directors.

The couple's contributions led to the recent opening of a much needed Specialty Pediatric Medical and Dental Clinic located inside the center.

The clinic will help the families of all 58 children who live on-site. But one mother, whose daughter also was named Emily, thanks the Eggerts for a tender gesture that she'll never forget.

"The day my daughter Emily died I couldn't get to the child center right away," says Jan Jeddeloh. "But Louanna happened to be there. She didn't want us to walk in and see Emily just lying there on the bed, so she went into her room and told the nurses, 'I'm going to hold this child until her parents get here.' That is one of the most beautiful gifts anyone has ever given us."

In February, Providence Child Center Foundation gave back to the Eggerts with the 2010 Heart of Gold award, given annually to those who have improved the lives of children with special needs.

Emily lived at the center from 1988 to 1997, when she died at age 11.

"The day after she passed away I looked outside and there was a butterfly. That butterfly stayed all day long," Louanna says. "Butterflies come from being a caterpillar and then go into this cocoon and change. I believe that Emily's life here on Earth has changed, and she became a butterfly guardian angel to watch over our family."