Saturday was a day for honoring angels, both in heaven and on earth.
It was during a quiet gathering that Angels of Hope Inc., welcomed the arrival of four little miracles-Rhylan, Nicholas, Spencer and Madelyn.
The little ones are the first babies born since the inception of the organization's Creating Miracles Grant in 2007.
Rhylan, the daughter of Ray and Lisa Brackett, was the organization's first miracle baby, born in March 2008. Twins Nicholas and Spencer Kwasigroch, the sons of Dusty and Lori, followed in June and in August Madelyn was born to John and Lisa Allison.
Each of the couples had struggled with fertility issues and ultimately the on-going costs of infertility treatments.
Many of its own members know first hand the heartbreak of being unable to conceive a child and the financial strain it can put on a family.
So in April 2007, the organization awarded its first grant and out of the five handed out since, four babies were born.
After suffering the loss of twins, the Bracketts were the first couple to receive a grant. Just 11 months after receiving the funds, Rhylan was born.
Russelle Holsinger, the organization's vice president, said the grant amount varies depending on a couple's need and how much is available for distribution.
"Everyone who receives a grant has already invested a significant amount on their own," she said.
Applicants must, among other things, be legally married, display an obvious financial need and a have a likelihood for successful treatment.
Holsinger said the organization has received inquires from as far away as Egypt and Bulgaria. "We're known worldwide, but our concentration is here in our communities," she said. Preference is given to couples living within 24 miles of Morris.
Although the organization expects nothing in return from the couples, Holsinger said each has given back.
The Bracketts have a pink and blue Angels of Hope race car, Dusty Kwasigroch sold dozens of tickets for a recent fundraiser and John Allison organized a volunteer group from the Empress Casino to spruce up the Angel Memorial Park prior to last weekend's brick dedication ceremony.
"Each of these families is paying it forward," Holsinger said.
Last month another couple, Curt and Colleen Hanson of Wilmington, were presented with a grant. The next deadline to submit a grant application is August 30 for funds to be awarded in September.
To learn more about the Creating Miracles Grant or Angels of Hope, Inc. log on to their website at www.angelsofhopeinc.org or call 815-634-8139.