This story takes us back a few years, to the fall of 2015, when Milk Bank WGL was just getting ready to open our doors. We put out the call to our friends and family looking for a local artist. We needed to find the right person to paint the backdrop for our Poppy’s Dream Bereavement Milk Donation Memorial Wall. As fate would have it, we connected with a Dad from Genoa, IL.

Garrick first came to visit our space after working a full day at his regular job with the railroad. He asked about the project, and we immediately sensed a connection.

“Donor milk saved my son’s life in the NICU.”

Before visiting, Garrick wasn’t even aware that he was headed to a milk bank. There were no signs on the doors yet, and as far as he knew we were just an office in need of a mural. 

His son Andrew received donor milk at a hospital in Kansas City several years earlier. Andrew only needed donor milk for a few days until his Mom’s milk was fully available, but Dad remembered and was grateful. He agreed to paint the memorial wall for only the cost of the supplies. On December 31, 2015, Garrick began painting. By the time we earned our accreditation in January, 2016, the wall was ready.

We didn’t really know what to expect, or how many families might participate in the program, but Poppy’s Dream has become a home for hundreds of baby’s legacies. For more information about our Bereavement Milk Donation Memorial Program, click here.

By 2019, we had already outgrown our original space! Garrick returned to paint the mural again, but this time it was triple the size. It took several weekends of dedication, but he was up to the challenge. He once again took the time to lovingly detail the entire wall, and never lost sight of the importance of the project. When Garrick was finished painting the backdrop, the glass mosaic poppies were added and all of the stars were carefully mapped before being moved to their new home.

Meanwhile, 11 year old Andrew has been following in his Dad’s artful footsteps! We recently reached out to Garrick to see if he might be willing to create a new t-shirt design for our online gear fundraiser. The vision was something of a superhero design. It just so happens that Andrew already created a milk drop superhero!! The adorably powerful little milk drop you see here was designed by a former recipient baby ten full years after he graduated from the NICU. Dad added a backdrop for us, and this Super Drop is now available in our online Milk Bank WGL Fundraising Store, with lots of shirt sizes and designs to choose from for adults and kids. We are so grateful to Andrew and Garrick for their artistic endeavors!