Friendship can come when you least expect it, and for Heidi Gilbert and JoAnn Seamans, it happened when they needed it most.
“The fact that we both have just been through the same thing and we can know how the other feels - it’s a bond like no other," Seamans said.
Seamans had been a donor for years to the Stillwater Medical Foundation, as well as a volunteer at the hospital, working for years in the gift shop.
Both mothers met each other before Thanksgiving and discovered they lost sons around the same age. 90-year-old Seamans lost both her sons Kyle and Kevin to traumatic accidents. Gilbert's son, Jake, was shot and killed this past March.
"She understands exactly what that feels like and there's no amount of years that takes that away," Gilbert said. "Nobody wants that call at 2 a.m. in the morning that your son has died, and it is making our first holidays without him very, very hard, but Joanne and her friendship has helped," said Gilbert.
Now they're moms on a mission.
Gilbert is a registered nurse at Stillwater Medical Center, but also trains schools to use "bleeding control kits," which are backpacks full of life-saving things like gauze, scissors, and tourniquets that can help treat students with traumatic injuries. The kits were started a year after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Teachers and first responders started the "Stop the Bleed Campaign.” Medical professionals and other organizers would train schools life-saving techniques.
Gilbert has trained nearly all the schools across Stillwater.
The Stillwater Medical Foundation buys the backpacks with money from donors like Seamans. Foundation Director, Scott Petty, realized how much the women had in common, and knew they should meet.
"It was a good opportunity to make a connection to two people who really had big hearts," Petty said. "I believe that our ultimate worth is not measured by dollars but how we serve others. These two ladies serve others in a fantastic, special way."
Both mothers said they want to see the backpacks in all Oklahoma schools.
"I'm grateful that this has brought us together and our friendship. I'm glad I'm adopted," Gilbert said.
The backpacks cost $75 each. If you want to want to donate money toward providing more of them, click here.