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Widow Copes With Tragedy By Giving To Others In Need

By Lauren DiSpirito

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)- For Colonta and Jenna White, and their family, the last seven months have been their most difficult. On Jan. 11, just a few weeks after his 5th birthday, Jenna's son Preston was struck by a car while trying to cross a street near his home.

In the accident, Preston lost oxygen to his brain, and sustained three life-altering brain injuries. Preston spent more than two months at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora receiving care. He is now in a wheelchair, cannot move on his own, and requires full-time care.

preston white (1)
(credit: White family)

"Preston before was a very happy, outgoing, rambunctious little boy," White said. "We take life for granted and we don't even mean to. This changed our lives forever."

Unfortunately, Nancy Fitzgerald understands the Whites' devastation, and sense of loss.

"If Patrick would have lived, he would have been in the same sort of state as Preston," Fitzgerald says.

On Aug. 21, 2014, Fitzgerald's husband Patrick was biking home from work at his company's office in Englewood when he was struck by a driver. Patrick passed away five days later. Fitzgerald and her husband have two young children.

colonta jenna preston white
Colonta, Jenna and Preston White (credit: CBS)

Since Patrick's death, Fitzgerald has made it her passion to seek out and do good for families struggling with grief. Through her charity, The Butterfly Foundation, and the business her husband left her, iLendingDirect, an auto-financing company, she learned of the crash that seriously hurt Preston, of his long-term care needs, and of the tragedies effect on his family. Fitzgerald arranged to meet with Jenna and Colonta.

"It's really a tough time," Fitzgerald said, "You continue to grieve for the loss of that child, even though Preston is alive, I think she misses the old Preston."

Fitzgerald wanted to help.

"In my heart the most important thing you can ever do is give back," she said. "I'm really excited to be able to turn something that's so awful into something that's going to be a great day for this family, it's my pleasure and my honor. If you can do something good from something horrible, then I think that's healing, I think that's cathartic."

preston white
Preston White (credit: CBS)

At her company's office in Englewood, the same place where her husband embarked on what would be his last bike ride home from work, nearly two years after his death, Fitzgerald surprised the Whites with two new vehicles.

Nearly two years after Patrick's death, Fitzgerald gave the Whites a minivan that fits the whole family, including Preston and his four siblings, and a second car, for Colonta to use to get reliably to and from his job a department store in Denver. The company's 180 employees surrounded the family with applause.

Jenna and Colonta White (credit: CBS)

"We're just so grateful, beyond grateful and happy," Jenna said. "I'm so excited to be able to go somewhere as a family and Preston be safe."

"I don't have enough words to explain how ecstatic we are," Colonta said.

Nancy Fitzgerald
Nancy Fitzgerald (credit: CBS)

The Butterfly Foundation covered the cost of the vehicles, including lifetime warranties on each, and is providing a year of counseling to the family. Fitzgerald hopes both the new vehicles and counseling can lift some of the enormous burdens placed on the family. The Whites say they hope to one day "pay it forward" to another family in need of support.

Lauren DiSpirito reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. She covers breaking news and feature stories along Colorado's Front Range. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.


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