Ceremony honors local families who lost a child

Ceremony honors local families who lost a child

PALM DESERT, Calif. - "Go home son, go home," whispered Manuel Dagnino as he released a single white dove into the sky.
It's been two years since Dagnino's son, Emilio, died at just 17 years old. Overcome with emotion, he was finally able to say good-bye.

"I just felt I had my son in my hands," Dagnino said.

The moving ceremony, held at Cal State San Bernardino in Palm Desert Friday afternoon, was dedicated to the 105 children from Riverside County who passed away last year, whose families were embraced by The Unforgettables Foundation.

"It was really emotional. You know, it was like letting go of all the hurt, finally seeing something at peace," said Cindy Toscano, who lost her 9-year-old sister, Sunee, last year.

"People see the doves flying and they're brought in to close harmony that there's something beautiful beyond and people can have hope," said Timothy Evans, Founder of The Unforgettables Foundation.

The charity helps financially-challenged families give their child a dignified funeral. Over the last 15 years, it has helped 5,000 families.

"It's a tremendous kick in the gut. It's an insult to injury. You're experiencing the worst thing a family can imagine and on top of it you can't afford a simple, timely burial," Evans said.

"When it happened, we didn't know what to do or how to go about it and the foundation really helped to start us out," Toscano said.

The remembrance ceremony served as a capstone to the foundation's inaugural summit, "Children and Families in Crisis." It aimed to educate parents and caregivers about the resources available to grieving families and the risks to children's health and safety.

"It shows the community cares," Evans said.

"I feel that The Unforgettables are a part of my family. They reached out to help us when we really needed it. And I'm very grateful," Dagnino said.

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