Community News: Kerlin family helps hospitals purchase Caring Cradles

KETTERING — When Harper Ann Kerlin died in her mother’s arms about an hour after birth, a Caring Cradle gave her family something they profoundly wanted: more time.

Harper’s bladder outlet obstruction caused her lungs to stop developing and her kidneys to shut down, said her parents, Sarah and Tyler Kerlin of Kettering. After her death in 2018, Miami Valley Hospital rolled in a Caring Cradle, a cooling device that looks like a bassinet and slows down the natural processes that occur after death.

“It was just something at the time that we didn’t know we needed,” Sarah Kerlin said.

The special cradle allowed the Kerlins to have family photos taken, get molds of her hands and feet and spend more time with their daughter. Now the family raises money to purchase Caring Cradles to donate to hospitals.

Each donated cradle costs almost $6,000, and they so far have purchased two Caring Cradles for hospitals in Dayton and Cincinnati. A recent annual cornhole tournament will enable them to donate a third. Tyler, 29, also has become a distributor with the company.

In addition, the Kerlin family – including 5-year-old son, Jacob – has donated more than 500 stuffed bears designed in memory of their daughter to help ease the pain for others who have lost a child. “Harper’s Angel Bears” have been given out at local hospitals, and to families throughout the U.S. and in Canada and the U.K.

“We wanted to make sure no one goes home empty-handed,” said Sarah Kerlin, 32, a sixth-grade science teacher at Dayton Early College Academy.

Sarah Kerlin’s father, David Rodehaver, nominated the Kerlin family as Dayton Daily News Community Gems. Rodehaver, of Centerville, is proud of their efforts and their work with families who have lost a child and are going through the grieving process.

“They have a real passion for getting these cradles out to as many hospitals as they possibly can,” he said.