Born in April 2010, Charlie Hanke
was everything his parents could have asked for in a newborn.
“He was a beautiful baby boy, and just perfect in every way,” says Sam Hanke, Charlie’s father. “And we were a very normal family for three weeks—doing all the normal things parents do—and we got so much joy and love from this little baby.”
But on April 27, 2010, Hanke says Charlie was “fussy” and was having a difficult time getting to sleep.
“I was holding him and sat down on the couch and fell asleep. And when I woke up, Charlie didn’t,” Hanke says. “And it’s been a beginning of a new life for my wife and I and for my friends and family who’ve helped to kind of get us to move forward from that night.”
One way Sam and his wife Maura have moved forward is through the creation of the Charlie’s Kids Foundation
to raise awareness about the issue of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
and the importance of safe sleep.
“Safe sleep practices have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS significantly, and we know families aren’t doing it. As a result, too many babies are dying,” Hanke says. “Cincinnati has over two times the national average for infant mortality rates, and some areas within the city have mortality rates that are on average the same as in Iraq and developing countries, and that’s unacceptable and embarrassing.”
In hopes of preventing other families from going through a loss similar to the one they experienced, the Hankes want to do all they can to educate others about the dos and don’ts
of infant sleeping habits. Their latest venture is commissioning a children’s book, "Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug
;" the profits will help the nonprofit further its mission.
“It’s really just a gentle book written by a local doctor and pediatrician friend of mine—John Hutton,” Hanke says. “And the interest and excitement around this book has just been humbling. We released it in June and presented it in a couple different venues and have already sold 100,000 copies in the last three months.”
• Purchase a copy of "Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug
" online, or at local booksellers like The Villager
or Blue Manatee
. Copies will soon be available at Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Charlie's Kids by donating.
• Like Charlie's Kids on Facebook
, and share safe sleep dos and don'ts
By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.