Chesapeake couple turns son's loss into hope for other families


by LaSalle Blanks

Posted on June 25, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 23 at 10:54 AM

CHESAPEAKE -- Stephanie Harmon could not fight back the tears as she talked about her eight-and-a-half-month-old son,  Ben, who died this earlier year.

"It's the worst pain a mother can ever feel. Your heart literally is broken," she said.

She and her husband Daniel are turning that pain into something positive.

Benjamin was born with the rare combination of Down Syndrome and hypoplastic right heart, which means one side of his heart was bigger than the other.  He underwent several heart procedures and battled several different infections, but he passed away February 2.

During his courageous battle, his parents were his side around the clock -- loving Benjamin, willing him to survive. 

Because of the traumatic, emotional experience, the Harmons have come up with a way to help other families facing similar tragedies.   They created "Healing Hearts for Benjamin."   It raises money for an endowment fund at CHKD specifically to provide support to cardiac programs with special consideration to patients and their families. They've also already started support groups for families.

It's already paying off.

A family wrote to them saying, "Benjamin's life, although brief, has had a profound effect on so many. Your family should be commended."

That letter brings tears again to Stephanie's face, but they're tears of joy. They motivate her to make sure "Healing Hearts for Benjamin" has meaning and staying power.

"I think about that sweet baby and I think if he can fight like that, so can mommy."

For more information on "Healing Hearts for Benjamin" of the family support group, call 668-7273 or log onto .

There's a fundraiser at Chick-Fil-A on Battlefield Blvd. in Chesapeake on Tuesday, June 26. It's from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.