Palmyra-based nonprofit Christian’s Purpose is holding a fundraising event April 13 at the Oakland School in Troy, Virginia. As the only nonprofit of its kind in the state, Christian’s Purpose provides financial assistance to families who are dealing with the sudden death of a child. Jesse and Chelsea Cobb of Palmyra,  started the organization in October 2017 in memory of their son, who died at six days old.

His name was Christian.

Life was good for Jesse and Chelsea Cobb when the couple, and their daughter Mikiah, got news in April of 2017 that the family of three would soon be a family of four. They were elated, announcing the news to anyone who would listen. Their social media accounts lit up with congratulatory messages. Prenatal visits were smooth and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Their joy would be short-lived. During Chelsea’s week 22 ultrasound, the couple got the worst possible news. Doctors determined the baby was developing an omphalocele; a rare birth defect in which the intestines, liver and occasionally other organs remain outside of the body in a sac. There was hope, but the signs weren’t good. 

At 35 weeks, Chelsea gave birth to a baby boy, and they named him Christian Thomas James Cobb. For the next 6 days, the Palmyra couple went through a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. There were hopeful signs that Christian might pull through. There were also severe complications and emergency surgeries. In the end, Christian’s condition was so dire that he never really stood a chance. He passed away on October 18, leaving behind a devastated family.

“During the whole process, we learned that there is nowhere to turn for financial assistance or help for families who are dealing with a situation like this,” Jesse Cobb said. “We were left with a lot of grief and high medical bills.”

Within a day of his son’s passing, Cobb put the wheels in motion to establish a nonprofit to help other families who are in similar situations, and as a way to immortalize his son. They called the organization Christian’s Purpose and it was officially established in January of last year.

“We provide funeral assistance, as well as caskets, memory markers and other services for families who are experiencing an overwhelming loss like we did. Our goal is to alleviate the financial stress associated with these tragic losses,” Cobb said.

In their first year, Christian’s Purpose assisted around 150 Virginia families who were dealing with the loss of a child.

“We never expected that to happen. We even had to turn down some requests, because we couldn’t handle them.”

Although most of the help in the first year was directed at families who lost a newborn or infant, Christian’s Purpose is set up to provide assistance to families of children ages 0-16.

According to Jesse, the number of children that pass each year in Virginia is “staggering”.

“In the Charlottesville area alone, around 60 children between the ages of 0 to 29 days pas away each year,” he said. “For the entire state of Virginia, that number is around 600.”

According to Cobb, about 11,000 children between the ages of 0-16 years pass away each year in Virginia.

The couple paid a lot out of pocket in an effort to help families in the first year of Christian’s Purpose.

“And when we don’t have money, we can’t really help. We’re still struggling, but we are hopeful we find sponsors who are willing to help out,” Cobb said. “Most nonprofits need to be in business for at least three years to get to the point people are comfortable contributing.”

Jesse and Chelsea Cobb hope the fundraising event on April 13 will turn the tide. Christian’s Purpose will hold a 5,000-egg Easter egg hunt, a silent auction and provide entertainment and currently have a raffle contest running, where the winner gets to choose one of three prizes.

All proceeds of the second spring fundraiser for Christian’s Purpose will benefit the organization’s funeral relief fund.

“We are doing this so families who go through what we went through have more financial help,” Cobb said. “We are also doing this to forever remember our baby boy Christian. We are trying to gain support for Christian’s Purpose so we can continue to help families in their times of need.”

Jesse and Chelsea Cobb hope to raise $3,000.

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