Harper Rodden was born on May 5th, 2015 to Whitney and Geoffery Rodden. Shortly after, cousins Paisley and Sybianna came along. Three sweet baby girls all born within two months of each other! These three girls were nicknamed the “Harper triplets,” even though they were really cousins. And so began the triplet’s journey of growing together, creating a lifetime of memories, and hitting milestones together.
Unfortunately, life had other plans. On July 27, 2016, shortly after her 1st birthday, Harper was killed in an avoidable car accident while in the care of her in-home daycare provider.
Harper Picks Peonies honors the life of Harper Rodden and her family. Harper’s story inspires us to keep the memories alive of those whom we have lost, and shows that by coming together, light can be found even through the most difficult of times.
Had stricter childcare procedures been in place, this tragedy could have been avoided. Harper’s family knew her story couldn’t end this way, and her legacy would be one of love, comfort and hope. They would use her story to help serve and protect other children for years to come - and so began Harper’s Hugs and their journey to change laws and ways of thinking towards early childhood education and in-home daycare regulations.
Anyone who ever experienced a real, tangible Harper hug knew that she hugged with all her being, just like a big bear hug, which happened to be her favorite animal. She would wrap her little arms tightly around your neck, cross her legs, and squeeeze! Harper’s family wanted others to continue to feel that love and comfort. Bears and other stuffed animals were collected by Harper’s family and loved ones and were tagged with Harper's Hugs tags and distributed to fire stations, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, hospitals and police stations - anywhere other young children may be in need of a hug. Each bear also carries a message to raise awareness for child safety. Just days before what would have been Harper's 2nd birthday, the last of all fifty states in the US, along with several other countries, had bears commissioned to locations ready to bless a child with a Harper's Hug. In just five short months, over 1200 bears with Harper's Hugs had been commissioned.
Harper's Hugs has opened up so many opportunities for Whitney and all of Harper’s family to rally around other parents who have lost children in unfortunate, but preventable events. Harper's story has been shared in the hopes that another family will never have to experience the loss they have.
Today, Harper’s legacy is still very much alive. Whitney speaks to high schools across the United States and tells Harper's story. We are deeply touched by Harper’s story and her family’s love and compassion. They exemplify the strength to continue on after experiencing such a devastating loss. They are a living embodiment of what we stand for here at Red Aspen, that people can come together, stand united, find their passion and purpose, and pursue what ignites them. They live and breathe positivity and possibility, and we are honored and humbled to share their story. They have moved all of us and encourage us to all to #huglikeyoumeanit for Harper's Hugs!
For more about Harper’s Hugs and How to Commission a Bear: Please visit www.harperhugs.com