Hopebridge Community Celebrates Christopher
July 24, 2018
July 24, 2018
As some of you reading may already know, last fall, one of our loving members of the Hopebridge community passed away unexpectedly.
This past year has been difficult for those of us who knew Christopher P. Dixon, who was only 13 years old. Although he is no longer with us, Christopher won’t be forgotten, because while he was with us, he touched the lives of everyone he met.
“We often hear how the therapists make a difference in these kiddos’ lives, but Christopher impacted so many lives beyond his own,” said Ashley Fogarty, Christopher’s therapist. “In him, I experienced first-hand that love needs no words. I wish it were simple enough to allow his parents to see inside my heart to completely understand the love I had for him.”
Like most of his peers at the Hopebridge South Bend center, Christopher had autism. But, also like them, autism was only a small piece of what made him the wonderful child everyone knew and loved. He was unique, joyous, enthusiastic and funny. Even as a kid who faced challenges, he went through every day with a genuine smile. His life reminds us that we need to make the most of the time we have.
Christopher adored the South Bend Cubs, which became a big part of his life. It didn’t matter whether the team was in town, they had a game that day, or even if it was baseball season…as soon as he saw Downtown South Bend, he would say, “Go baseball, please.”
His parents, John and Sandy Dixon, gifted him at least one Cubs jersey a year, each time adding his new age as the number. He had three jerseys already and frequently refused to wear any other shirt. At every game, he looked for the mascot, Stu, and shook his hands in excitement when he received a wave back. He even had a stuffed Stu that joined him in bed nearly every night.
“I wasn’t sure I could ever step foot inside Four Winds Field again,” said John. “But since Christopher loved the Cubs so much – especially Stu – Sandy and I agreed it was the perfect fit to memorialize our boy.”
To carry on Christopher’s legacy, his parents, alongside other family members and the Hopebridge team and friends, joined together for a celebration of all his favorite things.
Kicking off with a reception at Hopebridge South Bend filled with stories, smiles, reflection, hugs, and tears, guests paid tribute to Christopher by sporting their own Cubs-themed t-shirts designed with his name and age. Family and friends inscribed their memories and pored over the photo wall.
In addition to baseball, they were also surrounded by Monsters, Inc. elements and activities…Christopher was a huge fan of Sully! Guests were the first to experience the newly dedicated Sully Sensory Room at Hopebridge, where we found a way for him to live on through the therapy. It’s designed with an adaptive swing, multi-colored liquid floor tiles, an LED bubble tube, mermaid material sensory board and more for other children to play, learn and grow.
The day ended with a baseball game at Four Winds Field, complete with Stu, of course. The South Bend Cubs helped Christopher’s parents carry on their annual tradition with an authentic, personalized jersey and dedication.
Christopher was so important to so many people around him.
This is not the type of news we hear about every day, nor do we wish to do so. But Christopher and his family are so important to so many people around them, and we want to make sure his story is told and that he lives on through our work.
“From listening to Space Jam on repeat to eating as much Chick-fil-A as our bellies could hold, I have a lot of memories that I will forever hold in my heart,” said Ashley. “To this day, I still sit down with my son and look at Christopher’s pictures. I share them with him the memories that Christopher and I had together and the family that I gained in John and Sandy.”
Here in the Hopebridge circle of therapists, kiddos, parents, caregivers and more, we’ve become friends and even family. At the end of the day, we’re all just humans going through this journey together. So now we ask you to walk alongside us in celebrating Christopher’s life, sending the love to this beautiful family, and looking onward towards creating a better future for all of our special kiddos.
If you’d like to learn more about Christopher’s story, please take a few minutes to read the open letter from his father. John shares heartfelt memories of his son, plus solid advice for parents of children with autism.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.