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Everyday Heroes: Natalie Bacho

When 9-year-old Abby Bacho passed away on Christmas day, her parents knew they needed to do something to honor her short but amazing life.

On Dec. 22, 2012, the family was involved in a tragic car accident at the hands of a distracted teen driver. Abby died shortly after in a hospital. Her parents, Natalie and Stephen Bacho, decided to start the Abby’s Angels Foundation to help the community - their way of carrying on their daughter’s legacy.

“When I had that time with her before we learned that she wouldn’t survive, I just had that feeling with her that we had to do something,” said Natalie Bacho. “I wasn’t sure what shape it would take, but just this overwhelming feeling that we had to do something to continue her life.”

Natalie Bacho, along with her husband Stephen, created the Abby's Angels Foundation which provides clothes and school supplies to students in Coweta County. (Photo provided by Natalie Bacho)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

The foundation, founded in August 2013, operates a program called Abby’s Closet that provides free school supplies for students from pre-K to 12th grade, primarily in Coweta County schools, whose families are unable to afford the items themselves.

“After talking to some of the teachers and counselors at some of the schools, we learned how difficult it is for some families to be able to afford even the most basic of school supplies,” said Bacho.

Closets are available throughout the entire school year and the foundation’s only requirement is that students who need assistance are never made to feel outcast or needy.

“We thought of how much she loved to shop and she loved girly frilly things, and we remembered how much she loved to shop for school supplies at the start of the new school year,” said Bacho. “She loved to play school and she would create a classroom in her bedroom and it was something that she always pretended to play.”

Every April since 2014, the foundation has held a Rainbow Run & Family Fun Day as a fundraiser for the work it does. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Organ Donation Month. Abby was an organ donor.

“It’s a color run because Abby wanted to do a color run and never got the chance,” said Bacho.

Abby’s Angels also partners with Kate’s Club by helping them hold meetings in Newnan, Georgia. Kate’s Club is a nonprofit that helps empower children, teens, their families, or young adults after the death of a parent, sibling, caregiver, or someone important to them.

Megan Crawford is the Newnan Coordinator for Kate’s Club, and attributes their work in Newnan to Natalie.

“Natalie reached out. She just felt like that would be perfect to bring to the area.” said Crawford. “Abby’s Angel’s is the reason we are in Coweta [County]. She really got us going in terms of funding, connections, and networking.”

Abby’s Angels also partners with Fear This 4 Life, a nonprofit organization that provides driving instruction to teens and parents and teaches them accident avoidance and safe driving techniques.

To further encourage responsible driving, Abby’s Angels awards six college scholarships where the primary requirement is for the student to complete a driving course. The students must write an essay on how they can influence their peers and reduce the rate of teen deaths due to destructive driving.

“Taking the driving course, meeting Abby’s parents, and being awarded the scholarship have all been positive influences in my life,” said Zach Zachry, a recipient of the scholarship. “I feel that it is my responsibility to be a safe driver and to set a positive example for others. This is my small contribution to Abby’s legacy.”

Abby’s Angels hope by having teenagers talk to their peers about responsible driving, they can inspire real change.

“Our whole life was completely altered because of an 18-year-old that was driving distracted and didn’t get the importance of driving with the respect for life,” said Bacho. “We started to think of how we can teach other teens responsible driving and driving that can one day save their life hopefully and others.”

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