Grief Stricken Parents Turn Their Hurt Into Hope For Other Children

It’s a subject that is painful to talk about, but one that so desperately needs attention. Every year, dozens of children die because of being left in the back of hot cars. This year alone, seventeen children have passed away. The year before that, the rate of children dying in hot cars was up 25 percent. The family of one of these children touched by this unspeakable tragedy is speaking out.

Brett and Kristie Cavaliero with daughter Ray Ray

The moment that Brett Cavaliero realized that he had left is one year-old in the back of the family’s hot car is one that will forever haunt him. It was May 25, 2011, when he had put his daughter Sophia Rayne, who the family had lovingly nicknamed “Ray Ray,” into the car, getting ready to drop her off at daycare. However, he had driven to work instead. It was not until his wife Kristie met him for lunch and questioned why the daycare teacher hadn’t mentioned the cute outfit their daughter was wearing, that it hit Brett that she was still in the back of the car, on a 90-degree day.

Paramedics arrived on scene and spent forty minutes trying to revive the young girl, but to no avail. Sophia passed away just ten days after her first birthday. Now, the Cavalieros are channeling the grief that they’re experiencing into a positive experience. The couple have created Ray Ray’s Pledge, a project meant to prevent tragedies like the one they experienced by employing a daycare drop-off system, with the daycare facilitators phoning the child’s parents if the children are not dropped off at their designated drop-off time. It’s a phone call that could mean the difference between the life and death of a child.

Kristie Cavaliero talks about the project, “We’ve really channeled our grief and our pain into what we hope will be a positive contribution by trying to prevent this tragedy from happening to other parents who are not aware that this is a danger that they could become susceptible to.”

The Kids and Cars website suggests using the following tips, to make certain that a child is not forgotten in the back of a hot car:

  •  Bring along one of your child’s toys and place it in the passenger seat as a reminder that your child is in the back.
  • Take one of your everyday carry items, like your cell phone or purse, in the backseat, so that you will need to get out and look in the backseat to retrieve it at your next destination.
  •  Speak with your children’s daycare providers and set up a call system in which you the parent, calls them if you are not going to drop your child off that day, and vice versa, having them give you a phone call if your child hasn’t arrived by the designated time on a day that you are supposed to drop them off.
  • Instead of putting your child’s car seat on one side or the other of the backseat, put it in the middle, so it will be easier to see your child in your rear-view mirror.



About the author


Jennifer is a stay-at-home mom who spends her days chasing around the never-ending ball of energy that is her son. By night you can find her at her computer, drafting up her next great blog post about parenting with chronic illnesses. She is also an avid photographer and jewelry artisan.

She is the founder of the Fibromyalgia support website,, where Fibromyalgia patients can go to gain support, learn how to advocate for themselves, and spread awareness of this still relatively unheard of condition.


  • While the daycare system is a good idea, why place responsibility of taking care of your own child on a third party? What if the daycare staff “forgot” (as easily as the parent can forget child is in the car) that the child was on the list to attend daycare that day, and never calls the parent? Or if they become too busy and “forget” to call the parent? What then? Are the daycare community going to come up with another system so that their responsibility will be shifted to yet another third party? It will be a never ending process of shifting of responsibility, when responsibility lies with the parents themselves. Relying on third parties for safety of your own child can sometimes backfire. If you can’t even trust yourself, why would you trust others to remember FOR you. If the daycare drop off system is put into place, but children still die from these circumstances – will daycare centers be absolved of blame?

  • I recently heard a very helpful hint, one that I’d never thought of! It suggested taking off your left shoe and placing it in the back seat. Because you can still forget your cell phone or your purse. You can’t forget your shoe!

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