In memory of Sarah Gayle
"What better way to honor our precious girl than to give back to the people who gave us so much during some of our darkest days, in order for them to continue making a difference in the lives of their patients and their families."
Seventeen-month-old Sarah Gayle Gibbs passed away unexpectedly in November 2021. Through their unimaginable loss and sadness, the Gibbs family is honoring Sarah Gayle’s life and beautiful spirit by giving to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit that helped fight for Sarah Gayle’s life. Their generosity will help children from across the region as they receive the critical care they need at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.
Sarah Gayle was admitted twice to the Pediatric ICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children (HHW&C). Her parents, Meredith and Brandon Gibbs, say it opened their eyes to an entirely different “side” of the hospital and the care it provides to North Alabama families.
“When we were in the hospital the first time with our youngest daughter, our eyes were really opened to a new world that we never knew existed,” Meredith said. “Before that stay, Women and Children's, to us, was a place where people go to welcome new babies ... Now, the impact that Huntsville Hospital has had on our family ranges from the happiest of memories to the worst of nightmares.”
All three Gibbs children were born at HHW&C. Meredith says, “It goes without saying that these were some of the best days of our lives.” But, in May of 2021, they spent 16 days total in the hospital with Sarah Gayle. Twelve of those days were in the PICU. She says the doctors, nurses, therapists, techs, and even custodial staff became part of their family during that time.
“The care that our girl received was second to none,” she said. “They also took care of us, her parents, by reminding us to eat, telling us to take walks to get a break from the hospital room, and answering any and all questions we had in a way that we could understand. It is because of those people that we got to bring Sarah Gayle home just before her first birthday. Unfortunately, we found ourselves back there exactly six months later. While we did not get the outcome we so badly wanted after our second stay, it did not take away from the fact that Sarah Gayle was given the best care.”
Throughout those hospital stays and the moments of indescribable grief that followed, Brandon and Meredith thought of other families who will experience similar journeys and how they may be able to help.
“We realized how incredibly fortunate we were to have our home and family nearby, as well as means to take off of work to be with our baby the entire time that she was there,” Meredith shared. “We also realized that this isn't the case for everyone who has critically ill children, whether it be expected or unexpected. This was the topic of many of our conversations with people in the community when they asked about Sarah Gayle and our experience in the hospital. After we lost Sarah Gayle, we knew that we wanted to do something to honor her in a way that would help others.”
They put those discussions into action by founding the Sarah Gayle Gibbs Memorial Foundation as a way to give back to the PICU team and the families they serve. Their foundation made its first significant gift to Huntsville Hospital Foundation in honor of Sarah Gayle’s second birthday (May 29, 2022). 100% of those proceeds will go to the PICU to fulfill the Gibbs’ vision.
“While we wish more than anything that we were planning a party and getting ready to celebrate her second year of life with us, that is not how our story goes. What better way to honor our precious girl than to give back to the people who gave us so much during some of our darkest days, in order for them to continue making a difference in the lives of their patients and their families.”