BOSTON (CBS) – Last fall, Bob and Michele Gay were living in Newtown, Connecticut and planning a move to Massachusetts. Their daughter Josephine was one of the children cruelly taken in the first grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“This happened Friday, we were in shock on Saturday, and when we woke up Sunday I had the strong feeling we had to do something,” Bob said. “Because you have that anger and that anger for me was that I didn’t want December 14 or Sandy Hook School to be the last thing in my daughter’s life or define her life.”
He’s a father on a mission, and he and his wife want to take action. The Gays have turned their unimaginable grief into hope for other families.
“In Josephine’s case she was on the spectrum, mildly autistic but completely non-verbal,” Bob added.
Joey couldn’t speak but her life spoke volumes.
“One of the things we learned from heris that you really truly don’t need words to say I love you – actions speak louder,” Michele said.
Knowing the expense and challenges faced by families with a child with autism, the Gays have set up “Joey’s Fund” at the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. Executive Director Lisa Borges says this will help other families who face the challenges of autism, and help them get the services they need:
“We are so overwhelmed and touched by the Gays’ generosity and thoughtfulness in choosing us to honor their daughter Josephine,” Borges said. “Whether it’s a camp, music therapy, or just equipment, it’s very expensive and many families can’t afford that.”
Borges says Joey’s Fund has already raised $80,000 in donations from 40 states and 4 other countries.
“We wanted to be able to help other families – her friends who are still stuck in that boat having to make some really difficult choices in their family life so they can provide for their very special children,” Michele said.
And how do they feel about hearing Joey’s Fund is already such a success in a short period of time?
“We feel really good about it and it occurred to me the other day that my daughter – in seven years and being unable to speak – has a better legacy than probably I do for my whole life,” Bob added.