“The worst thing about being stationed in Italy was that we had to wait to see Cat Saturday because of the time change!”
Not the words we were expecting from Michael and Brandi Akins, whose son Merrick was about to become Chive Charities’ newest recipient. In preparation for our call with the Akins family, we read their application and the narrative about Merrick’s short life, already riddled with so many painful obstacles, but also so much joy… so much hope. It was hard to believe this biography belonged to a 9 month-old! Brandi and Michael could easily choose to focus on the bad. They could hold onto the grim prognosis; they could be hurt by the many doctors’ words that their son wasn’t going to live. But falling into despair was the last thing on their mind – they were too busy being there for their son. Instead, they wanted to talk about Cat Saturday.
Chivers are the best kind of people.
For Michael, a US Navy Submariner stationed in Honolulu and Brandi, a Kindergarten teacher in Fresno, it was love at first sight. After dating for 3 years they were married and could barely wait to start a family, but their dream eluded them for years as they tried in vain for a baby. Following rounds of testing they discovered there was a very slim chance they could ever conceive. As Brandi and Michael struggled to accept this news, life intervened with an opportunity, as it so often does: Michael was offered a position to be stationed in Naples, Italy. So the couple moved, jumping on the chance to embrace this adventure. It was while in Italy they found out that “the unthinkable had come true” – Brandi was pregnant. As Brandi put it, “There had never been such joy.”