Mom Transforms Pain of Tragic Loss to Power

By Randy McIlwain and Greg Janda
|  Sunday, Aug 2, 2009  |  Updated 1:13 PM CDT
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Mom Transforms Pain of Tragic Loss to Power

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Four-year-old Jacob Fox died after he was left in a day care van in 100-degree weather in 2006.

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Mom Transforms Pain of Tragic Loss to Power

A woman whose son was left in a hot day care van works to save other Texas children.
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Imagine your 4-year-old son has died after he was left in a van in 100-degree temperatures by the people you paid to care for him.

Even worse, the person responsible took the extra step of moving your son's body to conceal the crime.

It happened to Avonda Fox.

Her son, Jacob Fox, was killed in July 2006.

"I'm still angry now, and I still have anger,” Fox said.

But she has turned her pain to power with the Jacob Fox Foundation. The foundation financially assists needy families so they can bury children who have died tragically.

Fox said she remembers what it was like to lose a son as well as deal with a criminal investigation of the day care she trusted with Jacob's life. She was a single mother of two and grieving and flat-broke.

”I had a full time job, and I went to school full time,” Fox said. "At that point, I just couldn't afford a funeral.”

The foundation is just where her advocacy begins. Fox also successfully lobbied state lawmakers for Jacob’s Law.

The legislation, which takes effect in September, mandates annual training in transportation safety for day cares statewide.

Fox also is a certified as an instructor.

“She took the grief and the sadness and the sorrow and turned it into something that's going to save children's lives,” said state Sen. Florence Shapiro, who sponsored Jacob’s Law.

While Fox would do almost anything to have her son back, she said his tragic death has given her purpose. Each time she sees a van full of children, Jacob is riding with them, she said.

“A life is going to be saved just because of the law and because of what we're doing, so I'm very comforted,” Fox said. “Jacob is -- he still lives on.”

For more information about Jacob’s Law and Jacob Fox Foundation, visit www.jacobfox.org.

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