On Monday, Kristie Reeves-Cavaliero and her husband, Brett Cavaliero, appeared on the TODAY show to talk about the 2011 death of their 1-year-old daughter, Sophia Rayne, whom they'd nicknamed Ray Ray. As Brett explained in great detail in our June story "You'd Never Forget Your Child in the Car, Right?", Sophia had died after he had inexplicably forgotten to drop her at daycare, and instead accidentally left her in his truck for approximately three hours on a warm day. The Cavalieros have since channeled their grief by creating the nonprofit Ray Ray's Pledge. Its mission is to reduce the number of hot-car deaths—which average around 40 in the U.S. each year—by asking parents to have a simple agreement with their child-care provider. The parents agree to notify the provider whenever the child won't be coming that day, and the provider agrees to call the parents if the child doesn't arrive. This agreement would have saved Ray Ray's life.
During the TODAY segment, Sophia and Brett talked about the gift they've been given in the three years since their daughter's death: the birth of twin daughters. Sophia used a term I wasn't aware of: "rainbow babies." This phrase is well-known in circles of parents who have experienced the death of a child, Sophia explained: "A rainbow baby is described as a light in the center of the storm and darkness—and it doesn't take away the fact that the storm was there; it doesn't take away the clouds or the rain, but it does offer a light of hope and a ray of color where previously there was nothing but darkness." Her words gave me chills as I thought of the rainbow babies who have blessed the lives of friends in recent years.
Ray Ray's Pledge is currently advocating in the form of a petition to the White House to equip cars with "smart occupant detection systems." Essentially, this system could, among other things, allow cars to start and activate its climate-control system in order to prevent it from getting too hot if a child was trapped inside. It could also send a text message to the owner of the car, notifying him or her that someone is inside. The goal is hit 100,000 signatures by next Tuesday, July 22--but there are less than 1,500 signatures so far. Will you consider taking a minute (truly, that's all it takes) to add your name to the petition?