Junction mother whose baby died in 2010 wins contest, donates to hospitals

Sam Meyer strokes his baby brother’s head as their mother, Jennifer Meyer, holds infant William shortly after his birth in April 2010. “Will,” who had a neurological condition and heart problems, died two days later. The Meyers family of Grand Junction since has donated funds to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora to help other children. Jennifer Meyer recently shared her story and won grand prize in Kohl’s department store contest, Love to Give, Happy to Save. She plans to spend $2,500 in winnings on items for Children’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

More than 2,000 votes helped Grand Junction mom Jenn Meyer win the grand prize in Kohl’s Love to Give, Happy to Save contest.

The department store will donate $25,000 in Meyer’s name to Toys for Tots and send her $2,500 in Kohl’s gift cards. She plans to spend the gift cards on items to donate to St. Mary’s Hospital locally and Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

Meyer was one of hundreds of contestants who submitted stories about the people who inspire them to give to charity. Kohl’s picked 15 finalists, including Meyer, to share their stories on the department store’s Facebook.com page, where people could vote for their favorite finalists Dec. 16—23.

Meyer shared the story of her son, Will, whose death two days after his birth in April 2010 inspired her to give back. The Meyers wanted to do whatever they could to help other children, and they found healing in giving in Will’s name.

The Meyers collected $10,000 to donate earlier this year in Will’s name to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where Will had surgery shortly after his birth for a neurological condition and heart problems.

Jenn Meyer decided to continue the tradition by entering the Kohl’s contest.

“The idea is: Right after Will died we wanted to give back,” she said. “People go through tragedies, and they end up with a cause, and our cause is the Children’s Hospital.”

Meyer said she will probably send $2,000 worth of donations to Children’s Hospital and $600 to St. Mary’s (Meyer also received a $100 Kohl’s gift card earlier this month when she became a contest finalist, along with a $500 donation to Toys for Tots.)

She is talking to St. Mary’s about what the hospital needs, and Children’s Hospital has requested electronics for children to use during extended hospital stays, such as Xbox games and portable DVD players.

Meyer said she wants to take the family to Children’s Hospital when weather permits to hand out the donations in person and see for the first time Will’s name on a wall at the hospital. His name was placed on a wall after the family made the $10,000 donation to the hospital in April.

Kohl’s announced Thursday that Meyer won the contest’s grand prize with 2,005 votes. A Mason City, Iowa, woman finished second to Meyer and earned a $15,000 charitable donation and a $1,500 Kohl’s gift card. A Harrisburg, Mo., woman will receive a $1,000 Kohl’s gift card and a $10,000 charitable donation in her honor for finishing third.

The other women’s donations will go to hunger-relief organization Feeding America, one of two charities Kohl’s offered to make donations to during the contest.

Meyer said she realized early in the contest that she might win when she noticed hundreds of votes were flooding in for her each day.

“The whole thing was kind of surreal,” she said. “It was kind of a neat surprise over the holidays.”

This time of year can be difficult for Meyer and her husband, Dan, who also are parents to 5-year-old son Sam, and daughters Maggie, 4, and 6-month-old Grace. Everyone who voted for Jenn and Will helped make the season brighter for the family.

“I think a lot of people knew about Will and wanted to help when he died. Nobody knows what to do. We don’t really talk about death in our society. This was something they could do in 30 seconds. It really made a difference just to vote,” Meyer said.


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