After a local family lost their baby girl in 2017, they have made it a mission to celebrate her life and bring joy to the community. The second annual Children’s Community Festival was held in Frankford on Saturday, Aug. 10, the second “angel-versary” of Londyn Simone Manuel’s death.
Frankford Community Park was filled with kids enjoying the pony rides, a dunk booth, video game booths, food, sweets, face painting and a dance performance by the L.A. Heat dancers from Berlin, Md. The event was free for all.
Londyn was the 8-month-old daughter of Tonesa Walker and Norman “Rick” Manuel Jr. She was born with a rare heart defect, discovered about five months into the pregnancy. Hypoplastic right heart syndrome meant the right side of the heart structure was underdeveloped. Treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital, she never got to come home.
“Londyn was a fighter. She was a warrior. She bravely beat all the odds,” Walker said, “and for her, the celebration of life today is for her being a fighter, being a beacon of hope.”
The little girl had a successful heart surgery just three days after her birth. But later on, she got sick and went into cardiac arrest.
“She taught me patience. She taught me how to have faith,” Walker said.
Londyn had three brothers and a beloved extended family. She loved to watch cartoons, dress up and issue a diva-like side-eye, Walker said.
“She really loved her family. She really knew when her mother was around,” Walker added. “When we would come in, she would just light up the room. She was just lovely.”
During her treatment, Londyn’s family leaned on several organizations, which were represented at the Frankford festival.
Little Mended Hearts is a Maryland support group and advocacy organization to help parents of children in the treatment process. Approximately one in 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, they said. Also, with their daughter continuously in treatment, Londyn’s family stayed at the nonprofit Ronald McDonald House and the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House, which charge families little or no fees.
The 2019 Children’s Community Festival was held within a mile of Londyn’s resting place at Antioch AME Church in Frankford. The family said they will continue this annual event in 2020.
By Laura Walter