Eventually the Neff family learned of the SUDC Foundation, whose mission is to “promote awareness, advocate for research, and support those affected by sudden unexpected or unexplained death in childhood,” according to its website.
Through the help of the foundation, the Neff family was able to store Caleb’s DNA and enroll it in a study, Claudia said. The family also had genetic testing and went to specialists.
But while Claudia is joyful the family has the opportunity for Caleb “to do good in the world,” the opportunity is also one of profound heartbreak, she said.
In the meantime, the family is rebuilding their life day by day, sometimes even moment by moment, Claudia said.
“To be pretty honest, it’s our faith that’s keeping us going,” Claudia said.
So while Caleb will never play an outside park (although he did enjoy the play areas inside McDonald’s, Claudia said), she glad other families will be able to enjoy the park.
Caleb's Corner came together quickly due to community support and was completed in under a year, the news release said.
In fact, for Claudia's friends who have children around Caleb's age, it will be a way for them to connect with Caleb. Claudia hopes people who use the playground will think about Caleb.
“I’ve always loved children," Claudia said. “And I’m a teacher and have been involved in church doing music with kids. And I just think it’s important that every child has an opportunity to play.”
(The Neff family of Joliet poses for a Christmas photo. Pictured are Claudia (holding Caleb), Elena (now 7) and James).