On the day they lost their 2-year-old son Dax in a sudden, tragic and incomprehensible accident, Karen and Mike Babcock, in their grief, closed the door to his bedroom.
But a life carefully preserved out of sight didn’t jive at all with their “Daxy,” who lived big, loved hard and had a spirit that was, frankly, way too stubborn to accept sitting tight at home.
The next day, they opened the door again, determined to face their grief and honor Dax every day.
“We will be his voice. We will speak his name. We will share his stories and his bright blue eyes.”
The Babcocks wrote those words on Facebook when they introduced The Dax Pact Foundation on May 25, just two days shy of Dax’s third birthday and barely a month after the boy died when a large tree branch fell on him while he was playing in the back yard of the family’s Lower Southampton home.
The foundation will establish a pair of scholarships to, each year, send one child with limited means to the Just Children Child Care Center in Upper Southampton and one to Breezy Point Day School & Camp in Northampton — places where Dax and big brother Colton, 6, had been enrolled.
With more than $50,000 in seed money from a GoFundMe established in Dax’s honor, the Babcocks are hoping to also help fund local park improvements and, perhaps, hold a car show, said Karen Babcock.
The promise of funding for worthy causes isn’t the only pledge the foundation is making.
Per its mission statement, those who take The Dax Pact “are making a commitment to find the beauty and wonder in everyday life.”
Put simply, we’re challenged to live like Dax, a larger-than-life Disney character, as father Mike called him, who lived boldly, relished each moment and moved with gusto through every day of his heartbreakingly short, beautiful life.
“A pact feels sacred,” Karen said. “It’s a commitment, a reminder. Dax is reminding you to enjoy the day.”
There’s something universally relatable about our need for that reminder.
“Our days are so hard. It’s a grind,” she said, speaking collectively about life in 2023. “Some days we go to bed just having survived it. But look at what we have. I’m not saying ‘resist the hard things.’ But acknowledge the day is here and appreciate each day, each moment, each hug.”
With that spirit top of mind, the Babcocks, on May 27, along with their neighbors, threw Dax a birthday party. A big one.
They termed it “Daxy’s Day” and mobilized their small army of helpers to arrange for food, drinks, inflatables, games, ice cream, rock-painting and, not insignificantly, a silent auction that brought in $5,000 for the foundation.
Of Dax’s third birthday, Karen said “We had a choice. We could sit in a hole and cry, or surround ourselves with people who love and support us. Daxy was obsessed with block parties and, once we made the decision, it spread like wildfire. Everyone just said ‘yes.’ So we were surrounded by people who dropped it all and showed up for us.”
Mike, Karen said, was a rental company “ringmaster” with a vision but he had a lot of help from a lot of people who wanted to honor Dax.
“This one little man united us and brought us together to establish what a community is,” said Karen, who’s hoping Daxy’s Day becomes an annual tradition.
When it happened, Bucks County Coroner Meredith Buck called it an “unimaginable loss” and it is. But the Babcocks have committed themselves to keeping Dax’s face alive, to cementing a legacy of giving in his name and, with any luck, inspiring others to “live big, love hard, always. Just like Daxy.”
On behalf of Colton, Dax, Karen and Mike, I hope you’ll join them in taking The Dax Pact today. For information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/773996390992608/.
“This is how he outlives us,” Karen said.
John Anastasi is Editor-in-Chief of the Bucks County Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.