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Our children are not forgotten this school year and that means the world to us
Our children are not forgotten this school year and that means the world to us
Posted on 08/27/2019
Siblings with photos of two babies surrounded by backpacks

When Utica Community Schools kindergarten students start school this fall, Kate Bamford and Dominic Swoish will be there.

Dominic and Kate will be there when more than 150 students start their school careers with shiny new backpacks and supplies, collected in their memory by parents who wanted to honor their children in what would have been their kindergarten year. 

“When you lose a child you worry that they will eventually be forgotten by everyone but you,” said Kate’s mother, Sarah Bamford. “Each year brings new milestones you don’t get to experience with them so you try your best to find ways to honor their memory.”

“We coordinated this donation to help us heal from a hard time,” said Dominic’s mother, Sabrina Swoish. “Our angels Dominic and Kate would be entering Kindergarten in the fall and this would have been a huge milestone, however, when losing a child the milestones are hard and difficult.”

Dominic died at two years of age from complications of being born premature. Kate died at three months of age of Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress, or SMARD1.

The two families met when Bamford worked as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, where she cared for Dominic. 

The idea for honoring their children was inspired by a similar story of a mother in another state starting a backpack drive. 

The goal was to collect 20 or 30 backpacks for UCS students. 

Through community donations, the pair ended up collecting 150 backpacks with supplies and enough supplies for 20 more backpacks. 

“Our community at Utica Community Schools and surrounding areas are all so generous,” Swoish said. “We appreciate the outpouring of generosity and prayer.  We are blessed with the best friends and family and surrounded with love and support.”

“We were overwhelmed by the response to say the least! Never did we expect the outpouring of love and support that we received. Everyday it seemed like something new would show up from supplies and backpacks to gift cards and monetary donations to help fill the backpacks,” Bamford said. 

Helping the effort were Dominic’s older sister Gianna, who attends Duncan Elementary and Kate’s older brother Jack, who attends Monfort Elementary. The backpacks and supplies will be distributed through the Sterling Heights Kiwanis annual backpack donation program. 

“Our hopes were to make so many children smile and be assured they were ready for the first day of school, and see their smiling faces as we hoped Dominic and Kate would be smiling for their first day of Kindergarten,” Swoish said. 

“The outpouring of love and generosity showed us that our children are not forgotten this school year and that means the world to us,”  Bamford said. "I know that we’ll be on the lookout throughout the school year for some of those backpacks we filled knowing that a little piece of Kate and Dominic is part of UCS this year after all.”