Happy 12th Birthday Sophie!

Happy Birthday! I cannot believe you are 12 years old today. We have officially seen as many birthdays with you gone as we have with you here. That reality is a very hard pill for me to swallow and it makes my mind race with all the things I wish I had done better. The heaviness of knowing that you’ve been gone as long as we were privileged to have you here makes me want curl up in the dark and never leave. Then I remember that I should celebrate YOU and the gifts that you give me!

We’ve had a very busy year. We’re closer than ever to building a destination park with all of your favorite things and all of the things that remind us of favorite memories with you. We shared your heart for giving by holding weekly compassionate kids clubs meetings and did some amazing community service projects. We brought music and fun to the families of children’s hospital. You and your sweet little sister made all of this possible, you remind families the importance of togetherness and the impact you have on our community is amazing. Thank you for giving my pain a place to be useful.

The last few weeks have been overwhelming ~ we had the opportunity to go through a storage unit full of things that were recovered from the fire that I didn’t realize were even there. It was so hard processing the things so badly damaged but maybe harder to process the items that looked as if they were untouched, my mind would race to remember where the item may have been in the house to have been left unscathed when you were ripped away from us. It was therapeutic though to have the opportunity to make decisions, one less thing out of our control. I did find a few gems some of your amazing artwork, a few pages from one of your flower field guides, and a welcome home note from you to me when we brought baby Sadie home. Such gifts that means the world to me!

I’ve mostly mastered hiding the crashing waves of emotions from friends and family, but I know that you see me struggle and I wish more than anything that I could take away that turmoil from you. I had been diligently using art therapy and I’m trying to reframe the emptiness I always feel. I want to learn to embrace that feeling as the love that I have for you. The ache is only there because I love you both so much. I know that even on the happiest day there will be tears, but if I can reframe those tears as the reflection of the love I have saved just for you and your sister I may be able to sit with them a little easier. My emotional barriers are built so high, it’s a process, I’m working very hard to soften those walls.

I imagine if you were here we’d be gearing up for an amazing birthday sleepover with your best friends. I’m sure you would have created some amazing flower arrangements for the tables and you would have picked out the perfect birthday outfit. We would be running out to get your favorite things for dinner and ordering cupcakes. We asked the SaMP Kids Club to celebrate your birthday today by doing acts of kindness. I don’t know exactly what this day will look like for me I thought about running away to the beach and sending you balloons…. It’s early I may still do that.

Happy 12th Birthday sweet Sophie.

Love you to the moon


We are so close! SaMP Park Project

Recently we met with the City of Frederick Parks and Rec Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the legal documents (MOU) that will dictate who is responsible for what in regards to the Sophie and Madigan’s Playground Park Project at West Side Regional Park near Butterfly Lane. We’ve been working the the deputy director, and city engineer for several months pulling this together. Last night the meeting was short and oh so very sweet when the project was brought up the MOU was approved unanimously. Our next steps will finalize that approval. First we will sit with the Board of Alderman at their workshop on June 6th at 3pm. Then we will go in front of the Mayor for final approval. This should all happen quickly and it’s possible by that by the end of June we will be ready to hit the road running! We know that this has been such a long process and even we wondered if we would ever get to this point, but now we’re here! The time line should move very quickly with the park access road, the parking lots, and equipment pads for our park going in *this* fall. We are very excited to be here. There was a lot of “blood sweat and more than enough tears to get us here! We will be a part of the West Side Regional Park System where eventually there will be ball fields and proposed pools etc etc. We are grateful to the City for working with us to make this a reality ~ This Butterfly Lane location was the original location that we asked about when we sat down with the city in 2013! We still have work to do but we are closer than ever to building this amazing destination park that will benefit our community and honor our sweet Sophie and Madigan.

Celebrate PLAY





celebratePLAY logo

Yesterday we hosted our 2nd Celebrate PLAY event at Children’s National Medical Center. We handed out over 300 free superhero SaMP capes and gave countless kids/parents in the hospital a chance to leave all the hurts and worries behind to PLAY and create memories together. This year were were fortunate enough to have Imagination Movers come out and the families loved every minute! Miss Libby (aka Mary Poppins) brought her bag of amazing crafts, and our friend Meredith sent books to give away from Books in the Barn!

I stood by the elevators to hand out capes as many families weren’t able to stop and enjoy the concert and crafts and I wanted them to be touched by my girls and their beautiful spirits as much as I could. For a Saturday the hospital was busy everyone from ER patients, to clinic kids and in patient families. I watched one little girl shyly slink off of the elevator and saw her face light up when she heard the music, she turned to her mom now bouncing and asked, “Mom, is this the doctor? This is fun!” After they got checked in her mom came over to tell me how worried her daughter had been and thanked me for changing their whole day from one of scary doctors to a place filled with joy. I cried with a grandmother who’s grandchild had been brought to the hospital not breathing but who the doctors were able to save from the brink, she shared how grateful she was to hear the music and see the happy kids and thanked us for the cape for her granchild who was an absolute superhero. I stood with a dad and listened about his son in hospice care and how he was just so glad we were there to help fill the long hard days.  I gave capes and stickers to charge nurses and social workers who thanked us for helping to make their jobs easier…because a small gift can go a long way to help them do their job with a scared kid.

It was such an amazing day filled with so many emotions and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all of our sponsors and donors for allowing us the opportunity to bring amazing programs like Celebrate PLAY to the kids at Children’s National Medical Center! Without your donations, without your dedication to our organization and our mission we could not hold amazing events like this one. Such an amazing feeling to watch these families make memories with their babies – to watch their kids play and not worry even if it’s just a few minutes out of their day. There’s absolutely nothing I would have rather been doing to do to honor my girls.

**Celebrate PLAY is a free PLAY event thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors. Sophie and Madigan’s Playground strives to keep the memory of the Sophie and Madigan Lillard alive by providing opportunities for families to PLAY LEARN and CREATE together in ways that reflect the girls personalities.**








Samp Kids – Coco Prep!

We are just a week from our special showing of Coco presented by SaMP Kids! Please make sure to mark your calendar and come out for this special event all proceeds will benefit a Wish Kid with Make-A-Wish Mid- Atlantic

Date: Tuesday May 1st

Time: 5:00pm

Where: MDL Holiday Cinemas

What: Coco Presented by SaMP Kids Compassionate Kids Club!

Tickets are $10 for adult $5 for kids under 5 we will also have special goodie bags with hand decorated sugar skull cookies and with the chance to win our Coco themed grand prize!

The kids have been hard at work getting ready for our special showing of Coco to benefit Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic! This week we decorated sugar skulls and stuffed goodie bags for the show!

Next Monday 4/30 at 4:30 at the Clarion Inn we will be decorating the sugar cookies and finishing up our bags – I’ll also be accepting preorder for the show. We can not wait to see you all there!

SaMP Kids – Compassionate Kids Club is a weekly group focused on compassion and community service. Kids of all ages will come together to choose a service based project that will help teach them the importance of compassion for others and how their service big and small can make a difference in our community. SaMP Kids is a free LEARN program thanks to the generosity of Sophie and Madigan’s Playground donors, and supporters. Big thank you to our friends at the Clarion Inn in Frederick MD for hosting our weekly meetings free of charge!

Celebrate PLAY

celebratePLAY logoCelebrate PLAY is back at Children’s National Medical Center this May just in time for Sophie’s Birthday! Thanks to all of you we will have our friends Imagination Movers join us for this fun event. Last year Capes for Kids was a hit with the kids and their smiles told us we need to make this happen again! So if you want to help us bring a free cape for a kid who is facing a chronic illness, life threatening illness, or who is there for an appointment with the many specialists at Children’s, check out the website and consider donating a cape! We hope you’ll bring your kids and join us for this free PLAY event May 5th!


Spring Bags for Babies!

Nothing like a little organized chaos to help the community! The SaMP Kids worked hard making spring bags for the siblings of NICU babies and the pediatric ER – we’ll be dropping off on Friday. Thank you to Kendra Sullivan for the donation of Spring goodies that prompted this project! .

##sampkids #sophieandmadigansplayground #community #givingback #kidsdoinggood #missingsophieandmadigan

Not What You Think

Yesterday our organization was the beneficiary of an amazing performance put on by Not What You Think at Dublin Roasters Coffee. First we just want to say thank you to this amazing group for using their time and talents to help our organization raise funds and awareness for our mission to help kids and families PLAY LEARN & CREATE together. They choose amazing songs to keep the kiddos and adults engaged and everyone was blown away by the amazing harmonies coming from the stage. Thank you Dublin Roasters for always being a home for us and for hosting yet another fun community event.

Secondly, you guys, we raised $300 in that hour! Amazing amazing! Thanks to everyone who came out to make this event so successful.

NWYT is an a cappella ensemble performing pop, light jazz, and folk, and was affiliated with the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of DC. The members share a core belief that, as gay men and lesbians singing together, they have an opportunity and responsibility to effect change and to open hearts and minds. Not What You Think works for equality and social justice through song and humor, and hopes for the day their music can reflect a world at peace. To learn more about their group please visit their Facebook Page

SaMP Kids – March project week 2

This month the SaMP Kids are working on a few small projects for Make A Wish Mid Atlantic. We started off with a team building energy busting activity where one person couldn’t see and their guide had to get them through an obstacle course. Then we had the privilege to have one of our samp kids who is also a Wish Kid, Baylin and his mom, Antonette, chat with the group about their upcoming experience with make a wish and we made cards for Wish Kids. We’re also working on the details for our Movie Night fundraiser to benefit Make A Wish stay tuned if you want to come out and support this project!