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Two local, grieving moms connected by chance--because of toys

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FARGO —This would turn out to be no ordinary toy drive.

A young Fargo mom will forever deal with the loss of her two boys from a horrific Easter crash on a snowy I-29, five months ago.

Thursday, August 9, would be a day to collect and deliver toys to the Children's Hospital, as a way to honor the memory of those two boys.

But it would turn out that two grieving moms found comfort in each other and their toy drives, all because they lost children.

At Healing Touch Chiropractic in West Fargo, staff and volunteers collected tote boxes full of toys, just one of the drop off sites Trista Curry had across Fargo the last few weeks.

"Doing something positive in the boys' names, keep their memory alive, their hearts alive, is what I have been saying," said Trista Curry.

It took two trucks and a car to hold all the toys.

Then again, this was not just an ordinary day.

Trista's youngest, Maxwell, would have turned two.

He and his brother Camden died in March.

A horrible accident left her daughter, Avalon, injured but she survived.

Trista was hospitalized two weeks, in fact, the visitation for the boys was held at the hospital so she could say goodbye.

The pile of toys was delivered to Sanford Children's Hospital, to honor those boys and to help other children as they heal.

"It feels good, for selfish reasons, it is keeping me busy and my mind occupied," she said.

And to help Trista on this journey of loss, a connection that came out of the blue.

"God sent an angel to us after this," Trista said, turning to her new friend, Jana Solhjem.

Another mom who has used toy drives to heal.

Jana Solhjem and her family have collected Legos for Sanford Children's in memory of their young son Jeremiah, who died in an accident nearly three years ago.

These two women didn't know each other until earlier this summer.

They both know loss, both know healing is slow and painful.

"You see a purpose for the pain, I see I am further down the road than she is, for the grief, and so I can be there and listen to things only a grieving mom would understand," Jana Solhjem said.

"It is really hard to understand how she has been there for us, she gets it, and she is there to support me even though she is going through her own stuff," Curry said.

Something so simple: Dolls, trucks, rubber balls and tractors.

But it brought these two together.

And it just may be the one thing that helps them get through those days when they don't want to leave the house.

"I am able to hear what she says and not get alarmed and understand that this is part of the deep sorrow when you lose a child. To get that chance of what people did for me and pay it forward and be there and I told her I am not going anywhere," Solhjem said.

Several businesses in Fargo Moorhead collected toys for the project, and the YWCA also received some of the delivered toys.

The family plans a similar toy drive in Grand Forks.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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