When Amber Hatfield was a little girl, she was drawn to flamingos. Her family was visiting the St. Louis Zoo when she noticed the pink birds and became mesmerized by them. Years later, when she was battling a rare disease known as Wegener’s or GPA, flamingos would become a sign of hope and comfort for the family.
“Our daughter loved flamingos,” said Amber’s mother Althe Hatfield. “She even got a tattoo of one on her foot.”
For the last two years of Amber’s life, she spent back to back Christmases in the hospital. According to her parents, she somehow found the time and energy to buy Christmas presents in the gift shop for her entire family including her mom, dad and brother. This selfless gesture is just a glimpse into Amber’s giving heart, memories her parents were clinging to following her death in 2017.
“It makes us want to keep going and help people,” Althe said.
The idea of giving back in their daughter’s memory, led parents Althe and Teddy Hatfield to create Flamingos for Amber, a nonprofit organization for those with a sudden injury or extended hospital stay. The heart behind the mission of Flamingos for Amber is to help caregivers in numerous ways such as bringing patients to appointments, covering hotel stays when travelling to other cities and even mowing the family’s lawn while they are away.
“We saw the need because our daughter passed away from a disease Wegener’s Granulomatosis,” Teddy Hatfield said. “We had looked for treatment at every hospital on the east coast. The need was always the same; we saw it first hand. Sometimes you weren’t guaranteed a meal tray, sometimes you needed an overnight stay.”
When Amber passed away on March 6, 2017, at the age of 24, her parents knew they were going to focus on ways to carry on her legacy. Working to file paperwork to receive nonprofit status was not a simple task. After completing the requirements, it would be a waiting game. That is, until a small miracle happened.
“We became a nonprofit on March 6, 2018. It was a year to the day after she passed,” Teddy Hatfield said.
In June 2019, on Father’s Day, the Hatfields lost their 20-year old son Josh. Following the death of their two children, the family feels that they are in the background of Flamingos for Amber right now.
“We used to do live videos each week, but we stepped back,” Althe said. “We are planning to do something in our son’s honor as well. We want to have his legacy out there as well.”
Flamingos for Amber helps people in Owensboro and the surrounding Daviess County area. So far, they have helped roughly 100 families in the last two years. Multiple fundraisers have helped fuel their mission such as chili suppers, auction and Let’s Flamingle, an event with live music that returns to the Owensboro Convention Center next month.
The event was a big success last year. Attendees enjoyed the atmosphere, dancing and great cause. Bar tenders at the event served a special drink called the Pink Flamingo, one of the largest specialty drinks they have ever sold at an event.
“We call Let’s Flamingle an annual event so it forces us to do it every year,” Teddy said. “We love Owensboro; we have been around the city our entire life. It’s good to have community support.”
The Flamingos for Amber second annual “Let’s Flamingle” event will take place Sept. 28 at the Owensboro Convention Center. The doors open at 6 p.m. The show begins at 7 p.m. featuring music from Insulated and Reverend Jack. Tickets are just $20 for general admission or $200 for reserved seating for a table of eight.
“Everything we are as nonprofit, everything we are as a board, we owe to a little girl who refused to submit to what should’ve happened to her,” Teddy said. “Every day of her life was a struggle. Yet, she still graduated high school. She held a job. We owe it to a 10-year-old little girl who loved flamingos.”
To purchase tickets to Let’s Flamingle, click here.