Jacob Wallace

Husband Turns Grief Into Action Through Charity for Expecting Mothers

“He provides the ability for these patients to have something that they otherwise wouldn’t have”

A Virginia man who lost his wife in a tragic crash in 2014 is turning a cause that was near to her heart into a life-giving legacy.

Jennifer Lawson was reaching into her minivan for her daughter in Arlington, when a dump truck struck and killed her.

The crash happened right outside of Nottingham Elementary School on Little Falls Road and shook the community.

Since then, Jennifer's husband Neal Lawson has started a foundation in her name that allows him to take solace in giving back.

"Anger could present and hate could present," Neal Lawson said, "but it just didn't come to me."

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation provides services to expecting mothers in need at the Virginia Hospital Center.

Neal Lawson said his wife went through health struggles with her pregnancies for each of their three children. They were born prematurely and needed to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Jenn was really passionate about the notion of trying to have that access made available to everyone, and that really was the impetus and vision for starting the foundation,” Lawson said.

Michelle Altman, who works in patient care at Virginia Hospital Center, says she was humbled to see how quickly Lawson reached out to help.

"I met Neal shortly after everything happened and he said, 'We want to help, what can we do?'" Altman said.

Since the foundation's beginning, it has raised more than $700,000 through donation drives and 5K runs to benefit women with high-risk pregnancies who are in need.

The foundations funds everything from a patient's transportation to video chats with a doctor.

“He provides the ability for these patients to have something that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Altman said.

Lawson says he still grieves for his wife, but wants to focus instead on his faith and his family.

"It's something that's a part of me. It's something that's a part of my children," Lawson said. "But we also always need to live life and love life and confront the challenges that life brings us and cherish the joys that it does as well."

Correction (April 26, 2019, 9:32 a.m.): An earlier version of this article referenced Lawson's son when it should have referenced her daughter.

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