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Copley mom inviting others to share love

2/13/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Copley residents Michael and Lori Dente are shown with their 18-month-old son, Alex, and a photo of their deceased daughter, Sofia. In honor of Sofia, who died 21 days after she was born, they are inviting people to share stories and pictures of love on Facebook at #FindtheLove.
Photo courtesy of the Dente family
COPLEY — Copley resident Lori Dente is hoping to spread a little love around this Valentine’s Day in honor of her daughter, who passed away a few weeks after her birth several years ago.

Dente said she and her husband, Michael, learned shortly after the birth of their first child — Sofia Isabella Dente on Jan. 26, 2011— that Sofia had sustained a brain injury prior to her birth. Dente, a social worker in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Akron Children’s Hospital, said the brain injury was caused due to a lack of oxygen created when the baby’s umbilical cord became compressed in the womb.

Dente said Sofia was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Akron Children’s Hospital shortly after her birth, and to help her cope with the news, she posted updates on Sofia’s condition every night on her Facebook page for family and friends “because it was a less daunting way to share information about her condition.” Soon after, she started getting friend requests from strangers, and Dente said those communications helped her make sense of the situation.

“It ignited this love in support of Sofia from across the globe,” Dente said of the postings.

About three weeks later, on Feb. 14, the new parents found out Sofia was dying, and they decided to bring her home immediately.

“It made sense for Sofia to be taken home on Valentine’s Day because the baby had captured the hearts of many in her short life,” she said.

Sofia died 14 hours later.

A few months later, in June, the Dentes participated in the hospital’s annual Kids Are Number One Run and also began creating blankets for patients at the hospital. That September, they created a nonprofit called Team Sofie Chapter 2 to continue that effort and send blankets to families in similar situations.

Dente said she liked the idea of the blankets because, “they reminded me of the blankets that touched Sofie’s skin that I kept and are so precious to us. We called it Chapter 2 because it was a stage after her life.”

Dente explained the mission of that effort was to offer comfort, support, love and warmth.

“We offer hand-tied fleece blankets to patients and their families in the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital, as well as to anyone who is facing a difficult time,” she said. “For 21 days, we also offer special-edition blankets to celebrate the life of our angel.”

This year, Dente wanted to add to the effort and do something different to remember her daughter, so she decided to start #FindtheLove.

“Sofia taught us that even in the most difficult times, there is love in those dark moments, and we continue to find love in the face of the pain of loss,” she said. “More than 1,100 people have shared as of the afternoon of Feb. 10. It has been very beautiful, and it helps us to focus more on the time of her life than her death.”

Dente believes the effort has been popular because “people crave to find the good in life in spite of all the negative things that happen.”

This project runs for 21 days — the number of days Sofia lived, from Jan. 26 to Feb. 15 at 5 a.m. — and invites postings of stories and photos on Facebook to remember Sofia, but also as a way for others to spread love and share hope, she said. Postings should be tagged #FindtheLove.

“This 21-day photo project will encourage all of us to take a moment each day to find the love that is so abundantly around us,” she said.

The Dente family now includes 18-month-old son Alex, and Dente said she has created a book for him that contains all her Facebook posts about Sofia so that he will know his older sister.

This past November, she also published “With Just One Push: A New Mother’s Journey of Love, Loss and Survival” to offer words of hope and help those in need focus on love instead of loss during tragedies. The book is available at www.Amazon.com.

For additional information on Team Sofie Chapter 2, visit the website www.teamsofiechapter2.org.

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