By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published December 23, 2014
NEWNAN—Natalie and Stephen Bacho of Newnan consider the daily work of running Abby’s Angels Foundation a labor of love.
Named for their late daughter, Abigail Gracen Bacho, the foundation raises awareness about organ donation and safe driving, and stocks supply closets at schools.
Abby, age 9, died on Christmas Day 2012 from injuries sustained in a car accident three days before. A distracted teen driver ran a red light and struck the family’s van.
In April, The Georgia Bulletin published an article about Abby and the foundation. The year 2014 has been busy for the Bachos with tremendous growth and interest in the foundation’s programs.
Natalie said the biggest development is the foundation recently earning its nonprofit 501(c)3 designation.
The foundation sponsored its first fundraiser, the Rainbow Run & Family Fun Day in April. Despite cold, rainy weather, 600 runners participated.
The second annual color run will be April 19, 2015 at the Coweta County Fairgrounds. April is Organ Donation Awareness Month and there will be a donor registry on site. Race registration is available at www.active.com. All funds raised go to the foundation’s mission.
Coweta County schools have 13 Abby’s Closets, providing supplies and book bags for children in need. A closet is now located at Angel’s House in Newnan, a temporary shelter for foster children. There are also two closets in the couple’s home state of West Virginia.
“These spaces provide much more than school supplies. They provide acceptance, lots of Abby’s personality, and the belief that every child can succeed if given the tools and the support to do so,” said Natalie.
Fear This 4 Life, Inc. or Teen Vehicle Operations Course, founded by Woodrow Gaines, was held in June at a high school in Newnan. More than 70 students and parents attended.
The students learned accident avoidance skills in classroom and obstacle course settings. This was possible with the support of community partners. Natalie spoke and gave Abby’s Angels bracelets to students as a reminder of her daughter’s life and to drive safely. Taylor Long, the driver who caused the accident, also spoke at the family’s request in hopes his experience would make an impact.
A second course in the fall had lower turnout. Another is planned for next summer. The foundation will contribute funds to lower student costs.
The foundation’s rosary-like bracelets, made by family, friends and volunteers, continue to make their way around the world.
“People will share pictures as they travel and even include personal notes of what their bracelets mean to them,” said Natalie. Recently, supporters shared pictures from New Zealand, the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, China, and other locales.
The family presented the first Abby Bacho Memorial Eagle Award, to be awarded annually to a fourth-grader at Newnan Crossing Elementary School and voted on by teachers.
Natalie spoke to many groups, to students approaching prom, and to civic clubs.
“To share our story and what happened to our family is difficult, but if it changes the way even one person drives, then we must continue to try and create awareness and make a change for the better in Abby’s memory and honor,” she said.
A parishioner at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Natalie said God’s grace and the support and prayers of others make all possible.
“We miss Abby. Some days the pain is more than we can bear, but we are on a journey. A journey of faith and grief intertwined,” said Natalie. “We try our best to rely on these gifts from God, especially in this season.”
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