She may have only spent five incredibly powerful days on this Earth, but 20 years later, Rachel’s legacy still guides her family to help babies and children survive and thrive in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“We spent every waking moment in the NICU holding on to hope that Rachel would pull through,” her mother, Tori, explains. “Unfortunately, heaven needed another angel. Brent and I will never forget the care and support we received from all of the doctors, nurses and chaplain, and we will forever be grateful to this hospital.”
This incredible, always-smiling family has shown that gratitude every year for nearly 20 years with a family fundraiser that has brought in nearly half a million dollars to support the hospital.
Dough for the Kids Golf Classic is a play on words from their family business, Joto’s Pizza, named for the two sisters who run two locations in Pinellas County, Jodi and Tori.
Jodi and her husband, Steve, actually suggested the golf tournament idea to Tori and Brent when they were still dealing with the loss of their baby. They wanted to turn tragedy into triumph by showing their gratitude to the hospital that did everything to try to save Rachel.
The tournament, which sells out every year, is filled with their friends, family and restaurant customers, along with several dedicated Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital employees. Last year’s tournament alone brought in $25,253. The accomplishment makes Tori very proud, but she hasn’t stopped there.
Tori also participates in other hospital events and fundraisers, including the Run for All Children and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation Guild Bunko events.
“This incredible family has dedicated themselves to this hospital with their precious time on top of their generous donations. In honor of Rachel, they are committed to helping us provide the highest quality care for children in our NICU and beyond,” said Stephanie Hall, director of corporate engagement.
The family is confident that their efforts have gone to good use, including a sensory garden—a calming, therapeutic place designed to stimulate the senses — located near the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center. They are proud of the garden, which includes a special spot that dedicates its existence to Rachel.
It seems fitting, since Tori credits Rachel, their angel, with sending them down this beautiful and generous philanthropic pathway toward helping others in need.
This story first appeared in For the Kids magazine, a publication of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation. For more information on the golf tournament, visit www.jotospizza.com.