At 18 weeks gestation, infant Brady Valois was diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia. His diaphragm was not fully closed leaving an opening where his lower organs could move up into his chest that did not allow enough room for his lungs to fully develop and grow.
A month prior to his due date, Brady was born and died within seven hours of his birth. He passed away without his parents ever being able to hold him.
His mother, Lorianne Valois, received a Hope Box from Hope Mommies in memory of her son.
Hope Mommies is a nonprofit Christian organization whose sole purpose is to come alongside moms and families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, and/or infant loss, bringing comfort, encouragement, companionship, and hope, according to the organization’s website.
“It took me months to even open my Hope Box that I received,” Valois said. “But after I did, I was able to meet women who knew exactly what I was going through, women who still grieve in their own way and speak about their angels to not forget their names.”
Valois wanted to help women who experienced the same tragedy she experienced and chose to enter the 2019 Miss Five Hills Scholarship Pageant where she captured the Ms. Five Hills title with infant loss as her platform of service. As her service project, Valois co-chaired the second annual Copperas Cove Multicultural Festival and raised nearly $2,000 to support mothers who are grieving the loss of a child.
“After losing a child, you go through a roller coaster of emotions, constantly questioning yourself and what you could have done differently,” Valois said. “By creating these Hope Boxes and signing my name and Brady’s on each handwritten card, I wanted to let the mom reading it know that I understand what she’s feeling and when she’s ready, I’ll be there for her.”
Valois enlisted the help of the 2019 royalty who helped raised the money at the festival and the currently Five Hills royalty to pack 60 Hope Boxes.
This year’s Teen Miss Five Hills Angelica Torres is especially close to this project.
“I have a twin sister, Anazeli, who passed away from various health conditions when she was born,” Torres said. “My mother received a Hope Box and it brought her much comfort and let her know she had a support system anytime she felt she needed to reach out.”
The contents of a Hope Box may vary slightly. The Hope Boxes packed by the royalty included a Bright Hope book, journal, Bible, Heaven book, Hope CD, Spotify playlist card, Hope Mommies brochure and card, two bookmarks, bracelet, tea packets, candle, soap, lip balm, lotion and a handwritten card from Valois.
Copperas Cove Five Hills Ambassador Dawn Hale has children and grandchildren and is inspired by Valois’ demonstrated strength.
“No parent should ever know the pain of losing a child,” Hale said. “Jason and Lorianne honor Brady’s memory and reflect the love his parents have for him with this project and help other families experiencing loss.”
Valois will distribute 20 Hope Boxes each to Seton Medical Center, AdventHealth-Central Texas and Coryell Health to provide comfort to any families experiencing the loss of a child.
Preteen Miss Five Hills Dorianna Gilbert dances on the same team with Brady’s sister.
“It was heartbreaking that her family suffered a loss, but the love they demonstrate to keep others encouraged is priceless,” Gilbert said. “My mom shared with me that she lost her mother and baby sister at the same time and fortunately, there was a group similar to this that lifted our family up.”
Former Five Hills Junior Ambassador Hayley Sawyer helped raise the money at the festival and was excited to see Valois’ project become a reality after being delayed due to the pandemic.
“Working with my 2019 sister queen, Lorianne, was touching because this cause was so close to all of our hearts,” Sawyer said. “We all hope this helps others heal and know they are not alone.”