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Family Helps Grieving Parents Who Have Loss a Child to SIDS (NBC)

A couple is using their tragic experience to help families who have also lost children to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS America provides emotional support and financial help to grieving families. Bill and Cheryl Darnell launched the organization on what would have been their son's first birthday.

"I couldn't handle it, thinking, 'We're sitting here paying for our son's death before we've even paid off all of his birth bills,'" Cheryl Darnell said. "And that was really hard, too. And I know we're not the only ones who have to deal with that, too."

Billy, the couple's first son, died on a Saturday morning. He was only 5 months old.

"He was alert and strong," Cheryl Darnell said. "A real strong, healthy, chunky baby."

"Walking in and him not stirring was surprising to me, and I went over to the crib and was just horrified," she said. "I knew immediately something was not right. He didn't move, and when I tried to shake him, he didn't respond, and so I got him and ran into our room screaming, 'Bill, Bill, Billy won't wake up. What's wrong with him?'"

Bill Darnell said the medical examiner could find no cause of death.

"There was nothing wrong with him, nothing wrong with his blood, nothing wrong with his organs," he said. "'There's really no reason why we can tell you why your son died, he just stopped breathing.'"

SIDS America has so far helped numerous families across the United States with funeral and emergency expenses. The group's Web site includes a financial aid application.

"I have heard time and time again how there are some families out there it's happened to, that they're still paying that monthly minimum payment," Bill Darnell said. "Twenty bucks, 40 bucks, years later. A constant reminder of their child's death, and I said, 'Let's eliminate that burden.'"

The Darnells, who have a 3-year-old daughter and a 7-month-old son, said helping others is a true honor.

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