Emma is Kelvin and Christy Dunnam's third child. At 18 months old, she began losing milestones. Doctors diagnosed her in July 2008 with a degenerative neurological condition known as Batten Disease. Patients with Batten Disease lose their cognitive and motor skills, are associated with variable yet progressive symptoms including seizures, dementia, vision loss, and/or cerebral atrophy and show an average life span of five years. Emma lost her battle with Batten Disease February 1, 2010.
After spending significant amounts of time at MD Anderson Cancer Center with Kelvin's father, the Dunnams understood how quickly parking costs escalate. As Mr. Dunnam left the hospital one day, a stranger paid his parking. This stranger's random act of kindness planted the seed for Emma's Hugs. After Emma's diagnosis, the Dunnams knew they wanted to do something to honor their daughter. Kelvin remembered the stranger's random act of kindness, and Emma's Hugs was founded.
There was a special time in Emma's life, when she gave hugs and kisses. She even met her daddy at the door a few times, said "Dada" and gave him a hug. Through Emma's Hugs we hope to memorialize that time in Emma's life and to share the spirit of a simple hug from a small child.