Horses help parents cope after loss of child

John Wayne Vogels, founder of Martyred Angels Foundation, poses with his daughter, Raven, and their horse, Dakota. Vogels believes in the healing power of horses and began Martyred Angels to help parents who have lost children or to help children who have lost their parents.

John Wayne Vogels has no words to express the heavy pain in his heart since his 3-year-old son died.

He also has no words to express how a mare named Dakota lightened his suffering.

“When my wife and I spend time brushing Dakota and caring for her, it’s like a huge weight is lifted,” Vogels said. “I can’t explain it, but it just makes your day easier.”

The horse also has made a huge difference in his daughter Raven’s life.

“She and Dakota have this amazing connection,” Vogels said. “They support each other in a way I cannot explain.”

After his son’s death, Vogels decided to help other grieving parents and children who have lost parents. He started a Colorado-based foundation called Martyred Angels.

The nonprofit group raises money to help families pay for cemetery plots next to their children, counseling and access to riding lessons as a way to heal.

It also makes spending time with horses possible for those with post-traumatic stress disorder related to the loss.

Vogels, who grew up between Janesville and Beloit, now lives in Boulder, Colorado.

But word of his foundation has reached Rock County.

Allison Graf of Milton, who also believes in the healing power of horses, recently learned about Martyred Angels through her sister, who lives in Colorado.

She reached out to Vogels.

“As he explained his story and the mission of his group, I wondered how I could help,” she said.

Graf enjoys doing special events at Milton’s Bellaire Farms, where she is an assistant riding instructor. She calls the farm “my happy place.”

With the support of Kris Martalock, who owns the farm, Graf is hosting a fundraiser Saturday, April 13, to support the foundation and its programs.

“It’s such an important cause,” Graf said. “The people who work at the foundation are so passionate.”

The money will help an area family or two, depending on how much is raised.

Vogels lost his son, Bladyn, in a 2011 drowning accident.

“I can’t even begin to explain the grief that followed that day,” he said. “Only those who have lost a child understand how deep it is.”

Some marriages can grow through grief, but others end in divorce.

“We are really trying to keep families together and to help them through their daily struggles,” Vogels said.

Two years ago, the horse Dakota came into his life.

He and his wife, Teresa, also spend time around horses at ranches where their daughter takes riding lessons.

“Horses are the most incredible therapists I have ever been around,” Vogels said. “Somehow just being around horses alleviates the grief, the pain and the struggles you are having.”

The pain of losing a child never goes away, but being around horses “just makes me feel so much better,” he said.

Vogels wants other parents to know his organization is there to support them.

“Blaydn was the most incredible little boy,” he said. “We want the foundation to reflect the blessing that he was and is.”

Anna Marie Lux is a Sunday columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264 or email

Original article found at:…

911 call reveals new information from drowning of 2 boys

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — A newly released recording of a 911 call is revealing new details about the final moments of two young brothers who drowned on Mother’s Day in Pinewood Springs near Lyons.

On the recording, a mother can be heard telling dispatchers her son witnessed the accident.

“My son was swimming with a father and two kids and they apparently drowned. We have no cellphone reception down there. My son says they’ve drowned. I’ve got to get down there and help,” she said.

The boys — 10-year-old Jacob Foreman and 7-year-old Daniel Foreman — were on a picnic with their father at the time of the accident.

The father jumped into the raging Little Thompson River to try to save them. He also tried performing CPR on the boys, but it was too late.

“My heart sinks. My heart goes to my feet. My serious condolences to this family,” said John Vogels, a Boulder man who lived that same nightmare.

In 2011, Vogels’ 3-year-old son Bladyn was playing in the yard when he got out through a fence, and fell into a neighbor’s pond and drowned.

“The first several months after it happened are pretty much a fog,” he said.

Vogels said the accident still affects him on a daily basis.

“Each day is worse than the day before. Each day is a harder struggle. It’s hard to make it to work. It’s hard to get up in the morning. It’s just hard to face the day,” he said.

Vogels has started a nonprofit called The Martyred Angels Foundation to help other families coping with the loss of children.

“There’s no preparation for it,” he said.

The organization helps families through the financial and emotional challenges that come with losing a child. Vogels said 80 percent of marriages don’t survive the loss of a child.

“We’re trying everything we can to keep families together. It’s so important for families to stay together,” he said.

The Martyred Angels Foundation helps families with everything from funeral costs to counseling.

Group helps parents who’ve lost children cope, recover


Group helps parents who’ve lost children cope, recover

By sharing his story, a father from Boulder County is looking to help other parents who have lost children.

Author: Kevin Torres and KUSA , KUSA

Published: 5:47 PM MST November 7, 2014

Updated: 5:47 PM MST November 7, 2014

BOULDER – By sharing his story, a father from Boulder County is looking to help other parents who have lost children.

John Vogels’ 3-year-old son Bladyn died in a drowning accident in 2011 after Bladyn ran into a neighbor’s yard and slipped into their pond. Bladyn’s mother, as well as rescuers, weren’t able to pull the boy out of the pond in time.

“Losing a child is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced,” said Vogels. “Struggling with the loss has been the hardest thing for us to do”.

According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, each year more than 50,000 children die in the United States.

Losing a child can have long-term effects on the life of a parent. A study conducted by the National Institute of Healthlooked at parents who had lost kids between the ages of newborn to 34. The study discovered 18 years after the death of the child, parents grew more depressed, took less care of themselves and had additional health issues.

Not only did they lose their son, but at times the Vogels lost hope. Fortunately they found support.

“My wife and I had this enormous group of support and we’re so grateful for it,” Vogels said.

It was that support that saved them and also inspired them to help others.

“I want them [parents who have lost children] to know we’re here to help them and support them,” Vogels said.

Vogels and a few others created an organization called the Martyred Angels. It’s a nonprofit group aimed at helping families who have lost children. Its goal is to help with funeral and service costs, as well as counseling. All the money they raise goes directly to families in need.

“Our main goal is to not only help families monetarily, of course, with the funeral costs and services, but we also have Calvary Church in Boulder that wants to offer food donations,” he said.

When you lose a child, Vogel says the worst thing you can do is turn away help.

“It’s been a difficult course but we stay together. We stay together as a family. We support each other,” Vogels added.

All the money ‘Martyred Angels’ receives goes directly to those who need it most. If you’re interested in donating or receiving assistance, visit:

Additional information: Study on parents who have lost children:…

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)