ROCKY TOP, Tenn. (WVLT) - In the middle of a work week, during office hours, Brittanie Weaver's day job took a momentary back seat as she steered her car towards a delivery that had the potential to be the difference between life and death.
She pulled up to Tennova Hospital, parked her car, and started unpacking. "The thought is, hopefully we can save a life," she explained.
Each box was full of Halo SleepSacks, a type of wearable blanket for newborn babies. "It promotes safe sleep, it's taking the blankets out of the cribs, and that's at least one step to reduce the risk," said Brittanie.
Once the hundreds of sleep sacks are dropped off at the hospital, a nurse ushers them directly to new mothers in the delivery ward. Those are exactly the type people Brittanie and her husband Ben are hoping to reach.
"Where do I want to reach them? I want to reach them at the hospital before they take the baby home." This is the second round of donations Brittanie and Ben have orchestrated. The first delivery contained 400 sleep sacks, this one was about 2,500. It was far from a random act of kindness. It was a purposeful gesture, born from personal pain.
As Brittanie and Ben flipped through a photo album of their son, Mason Archer Weaver, all the memories of their first child rushed back. Brittanie pointed to a hospital picture, "This was the day he was born. 5:30 in the morning."
Ben said, "From the first moment we laid eyes on him he was perfect."
Mason was born on January sixth. Four months later, "I was in a hurry and I left and I didn't give him a kiss. So I came back and gave him a kiss," Brittanie remembered through tears.
That was the day Mason passed away, the day doctors explained SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, was the cause.
To learn more about SIDS, including how to reduce risk, what new research tells us about it, and where to find help in Tennessee, visit our comprehensive special report: 'Wake Up: Babies At Risk".
The months that followed Mason's death were filled with despair for both parents, until Brittanie decided to turn her pain into prevention. Using Mason's initials, she created MAW's Cause with the mission to raise money, buy sleep sacks, and donate them to new parents.
Brittanie said starting the foundation was therapeutic, the work soothing. Ben said it felt right, "For me, the foundation was a lot about extending his legacy. You think as a father you have a son, your legacy is going to live on through him, and now the roles got switched and it was my job to make sure the legacy of my son lives on. The foundation does exactly that."
MAW's Cause has raised thousands of dollars and donated thousands of sleep sacks to Tennova Hospital patients. Which means Mason has helped countless East Tennessee families.
"That’s a lot to accomplish in four months of life. He was here and he mattered and this foundation really brings that to life," Brittanie said.
Join the Weaver's on October 28, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. for an annual 5-k to benefit the mission. Walkers and runners can enjoy the moderate hills of historic Norris. The registration fee will be used to buy 2,500 wearable blankets. The organization has other events planned throughout the year. You can learn more about them here.
And if you happen to meet the Weaver's, know this: "It’s therapeutic for me to talk about my son. I love to talk about my son, and I’ll do it to anyone who asks," said Ben.
His wife agreed, "The best thing you can do to us is say his name. That’s the best thing you can do is say his name and talk about him. He was here and he mattered and this foundation really brings that to life."