New foundation launched to spread love

Richards family announces new Love Like Sean Foundation and its inaugural projects

The Richards family will spend Sean's birthday Sunday remembering his loving and generous spirit and doing something to help others.

The family has announced the formation of the Love Like Sean Foundation in memory of 14-year-old Sean Richards, who was hit by a car and killed last July.

"It's almost cliché - everybody seems to start a foundation when their child is killed or died," Sean's dad, Brian, said. "We wanted to do something to honor and memorialize Sean and his memory and carry on his spirit."

The family is kicking off the announcement with two initiatives this weekend. One will supply stuffed animals to kindergartners at St. Isaac Jogues School, where Sean attended elementary and middle school, and to children being treated at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Hinsdale.

Growing up, Sean was a big fan of stuffed animals, Brian said.

"He collected them for years and years. They were his favorite toy. All the stuffed animals had a name. They had a back story. Sometimes he would write it out," he said.

Bringing stuffed animals to the hospital will allow kids to be comforted the way Sean was when he made a trip to the hospital at age 3 or 4 after hurting his leg.

"It was just a sprain, so they wrapped it up and they gave him a stuffed animal," Brian said. "The day he died he still had that stuffed animal on a shelf in his room. That was one of the things we immediately thought about."

Through a friend and fellow member of St. Isaac Jogues who works at Ty Corp., Brian was able to secure a donation of 200 Beanie Bellies and Beanie Babies to give away.

"We're forming a partnership with them to buy more and give them away," Brian said.

The family also is collecting children's items to donate to the Migrant Ministry in Oak Park.

"A lot of the kids literally come over with nothing," Brian said.

Donations can be dropped off in the box outside the Richards' home at 306 S. Vine St. through Sunday. The ministry will accept only the following for children of all ages:

• new or gently used coats (clean and ready to wear)

• new or gently used snow pants, winter gear, boots and warm clothing (clean and ready to wear)

• new blankets, socks and underwear

• matchbox cars or small toys that children can take with them

The Richards also plan to fund scholarships at Benet Academy, where Sean would have attended high school, and to support capital projects at Benet, St. Isaac's and other locations.

Fundraisers will be part of the plan down the road, but for now, the foundation will be privately funded.

"I've been contemplating retirement for years, and I've decided that I'm going to keep working indefinitely, and everything that I make is going into the foundation," said Brian, who is a partner at Paul Hastings LLP. "It's a way to honor Sean. There's not a lot of things I can do for him right now, so I'm doing what I can."

His wife, Kristi, said she fully supports the decision.

"He's good at what he does and he has a lot to offer, so I'm glad that he's working, and if he finds purpose in doing it for Sean, that's wonderful," she said.

The foundation's first community event will be a 5K sometime the year, the Richards said.

"He loved running, and the morning he was killed, he went out and did, I think, four or five miles just around town, because he was going to be on the cross country team and that was part of the training plan," Kristi said. "We just felt it was something that families could do together, and I think family was probably one of the most important things for him."

Kristi said she has a list of organizations the foundation might be able to support, but the organization is still in its early stages.

"Part of this is it's very organic and we're just open to suggestions and ideas," Brian said.

Those ideas can be submitted on the foundation's website,, which was scheduled to be launched today, Feb. 8. The site will share information about Sean and the foundation's various initiatives. Last week, Brian shared some of the text that will appear on the page.

"What made Sean special was his obvious love and respect for everyone around him," it reads. "Sean was an extraordinary person full of love, life, joy and promise. He always found the best in others and never said anything bad about anyone."

Several of Sean's friends will be at his house Sunday to commemorate his birthday. Spending time with them is comforting, his parents said.

"We're going to have his favorite cookie cake and wings, and if I have stuff for them to help me with the foundation, I'm going to put them to work," Kristi said.

She believes the foundation will provide a sense of purpose for the family.

"It's what we have to keep Sean's memory and spirit alive, and, hopefully, if it can just help a few children feel loved, then it's totally worth it," she said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean