About Us

First Founded in

People Served

Dollars Raised

Volunteers

Our History

Since 2005

Serving families, through our three missions of services: support, education and remembrance

For 16 years, Forever Footprints has served families who have suffered pregnancy and infant loss. Upon the death of her son Joseph Thomas in 2004, founder Kristyn Von Rotz saw the need for support, education, and remembrance for grieving families. Medical professionals lacked the education and resources to adequately care for the emotional needs of families who had experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, pregnancy loss, or infant death.  What began as a small remembrance walk in 2005 with 100 participants, has since evolved into a multi-faceted nonprofit organization that has served families throughout Southern California and around the world. Thanks to the work of many passionate families, sponsors, employees, volunteers and supporters, the organization provides direct services, educates the medical community to improve quality of care and response, and offers opportunities for remembrance to help families find their own path to healing.

Our Impact

Forever Footprints OC Walk to Remember

Since 2005, Forever Footprints has:

  • Provided support to more than 42,000 people through in-person and virtual remembrance walks
  • Provided more than 2,000 educational books to families, and the medical community
  • Assisted more than 800 medical professionals in bereavement training
  • Provided more than 2,100 memory boxes to hospitals and families
  • Provided no-cost support groups to more than 1,000 individuals

Board of Directors

Blaine Annett

Blaine Annett

Board Chair

More about Blaine

Blaine Annett is current Board Chair for Forever Footprints.  Blaine is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance, and is originally from Katy, Texas.  Blaine started a commercial real estate company, A Street Partners, with his brother, and today lives in Ladera Ranch, California with his wife Jennie and three children.  Blaine has background in business leadership, sales/marketing, and finance that helps Forever Footprints execute on its mission to serve, educate, and support families with pregnancy and infant loss.

Blaine's Story

When my wife was pregnant with our third child, Rush, everything was pretty normal for the most part.  Just as Jennie was entering her third trimester, something didn’t quite feel right, and she wasn’t feeling a lot of movement from Rush late one night.  The very next morning she went straight to the doctor just as they opened at 8 a.m. to get checked out to make sure everything was okay.  By 11 a.m. that day, she was having an emergency C-Section and delivering Rush at 28 weeks old.  For reasons unknown, Jennie had suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage that resulted in Rush being born with severe blood loss and having to be resuscitated and given an immediate blood transfusion.  While in the NICU, Rush developed a severe brain bleed and passed away in our arms after 2.5 days.  Rush was a fighter but the extremely difficult delivery at just 28 weeks was too much to overcome.  It was through this experience that we found out about the Forever Footprints organization.  We still have our memory box that we have all of Rush’s belongings in, and we look through it as a family from time to time.  After Rush, we experienced a miscarriage, and having the education and support provided by Forever Footprints helped us get through that trying time as well.  I knew after going through such a deep, dark period and coming out on the other side that I wanted to get involved to help other families, so they wouldn’t feel so alone.  Getting the opportunity to serve on the board of Forever Footprints is such a blessing to help others in need while remembering and honoring our son Rush as well.

Leila Gagnon

Leila Gagnon

Board Member

More about Leila

Leila Gagnon is an Email Marketing Manager at the Automobile Club of Southern California who was asked to join the Forever Footprints Board of Directors in 2018. Unbeknownst to the Board at the time, Leila had witnessed several friends experience pregnancy and infant loss, and she had been seeking an opportunity to help them honor their loved ones. Leila achieved her Master of Arts in Print & Multimedia Journalism from Boston’s Emerson College, and has since worked in print, email, and web for more than 12 years. As part of her contribution to Forever Footprints, she will assist with marketing and multimedia efforts. Leila is honored to be a part of Forever Footprints, and hopes that her skills, compassion, and empathy contribute to the organization’s ongoing successful growth and outreach. Leila resides in Orange County with her husband and their daughter.

Cecilia Aguayo Guest

Cecilia Aguayo Guest

Board Member

Ciara Johnson

Ciara Johnson

Board Member

More about Ciara

Ciara Johnson is a graduate from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in Management, and a minor in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Speech. Shortly after graduation, Ciara began working for McFarlane Promotions, Inc., a San Diego-based event coordinating and PR firm. By her mid-twenties, she was named Vice President of McFarlane Promotions, Inc. Ciara is now working as a self-employed event planner, coordinating events in both San Diego and Orange County with 9 years of experience.

Ciara's Story

Our pregnancy was going extremely smoothly, and around 18 weeks, we were over joyed to learn we were having a little boy. We went in for our 20-week check-up, and everything went routinely until our OB mentioned that our son was measuring a little small. After many specialist appointments, we were able to rule out Down syndrome or Dwarfism. We continued with weekly checkups and our son was still measuring a little small, but continued to grow at a normal pace.  At a day shy of 28 weeks, I woke up with severe pain. This lead to me getting physically ill, prompting us to go to the emergency room. The next morning, they diagnosed me with HELLP Syndrome (a severe form of pre-eclampisa). This disease is what was causing our son to measure smaller. The prognosis meant after being given some steroid shots I would have to deliver our son within the next 48-72 hours.  When I was 28 weeks and 3 days, on November 15, 2012, I was rushed into an emergency C-section and our amazing son Colton Alan Johnson was born. Colton came out a fighter and was doing wonderfully for his small size of 2 lbs 2 oz. We were told that 28-week-old babies had over a 90% of survival. We knew in our hearts that Colton was a fighter and would undoubtedly be coming home with us after a long NICU stay.  Our NICU stay was hard as it is for any parent in the NICU, but overall Colton was doing great. He had his bad days as all NICU babies do, but he was growing and taking steps forward. On December 10, 2012, after 25 days in the NICU, Colton started to be a little extra fussy and didn’t quite seem like himself. They ran testing on him and found that he had necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which came on extremely aggressively. The doctors and nurses had not seen a case of it coming on so severely in their 20+ years in the field. Within just a few short hours of them diagnosing Colton with the disease, he took a turn for the worse. In the end, our sweet precious son took his last breath in my arms. Since that moment, I knew I wanted to do more for him, in his memory, and to honor him. We were introduced to the OC Walk to Remember by the staff in the NICU and looked forward to participating in the 2013 walk, but I knew I wanted to do more. We ended up having two subsequent miscarriages in 2013, which drew me even closer to the organization and my drive to help others. I am so thrilled to now be a board member and look forward to helping others through Forever Footprints.
Elizabeth Pagliarini

Elizabeth Pagliarini

Board Member Emeritus

More about Elizabeth

Elizabeth Pagliarini currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Summit Healthcare REIT, Inc. Ms. Pagliarini is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience having held positions including chief executive officer, president, chief financial officer, and chief compliance officer. Her background includes experience in finance, accounting, operations, compliance, securities litigation, and executive management.
Ms. Pagliarini successfully broke the “glass ceiling” in her mid-twenties as chief executive officer and chairwoman of the board of an investment brokerage subsidiary of a public company in Beverly Hills, California. She also co-founded a boutique investment bank and registered broker-dealer.
Ms. Pagliarini received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Valparaiso University where she was honored with their highest academic award, the Presidential Scholarship. She is also a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and has studied law and forensic accounting at UCLA.
Ms. Pagliarini was named one of “20 Women to Watch” by OC Metro magazine and nominated for The Orange County Business Journal’s Women in Business Award. She has also been honored by Step Up Women’s Network as the recipient of their prestigious Commitment to Philanthropy Volunteer Award, and she is the proud recipient of The Forever Footprints’ 2014 Compassion Award. She resides in Orange County with her husband and daughter.

 

Elizabeth's Story

Elizabeth and her husband, Robert, lost their son, Gavin Edward, when she was 8 months pregnant on December 31, 2004. She was so moved and inspired by the first OC Walk to Remember they attended, she knew she had to be involved in some way to help the thousands of parents that suffer a loss each year — especially following her negative experience in the hospital after her stillbirth. She is extremely proud to be a part of this amazing organization and is thrilled with its continued growth and extensive reach.

Amber Skalsky

Amber Skalsky

Board Member

More about Amber

Amber Skalsky is a vice president in PIMCO’s Newport Beach office, supporting PIMCO’s global corporate responsibility initiatives, including its international giving and overall community engagement strategies. She leads employee engagement and volunteering efforts across PIMCO’s 17 global offices including hands-on, skills-based, pro bono, and nonprofit board placement initiatives. She is responsible for creating and overseeing programs and building relationships with strategic, cross-sector partners in support of the firm’s community initiatives. On behalf of PIMCO, she is a member of Orange County Grantmakers, ACCP, and Business in the Community, and she serves as president of the Orange County Community Relations Council. Prior to joining PIMCO in 2012, she was grants manager at the Steele Foundation in Phoenix, Arizona where she managed overall giving strategies. She holds a master’s degree in nonprofit studies from Arizona State University and a dual-undergraduate degree in communications and public relations from Northern Arizona University. Amber lives in Costa Mesa, California with her husband Todd and two children.
Aditya Swaminathan

Aditya Swaminathan

Board Member

More about Aditya

Aditya Swaminathan is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a Bachelors in Business Administration. He is a Managing Director at Ernst & Young (EY) within the Financial Services sector. He was born in India and grew up in Dubai before moving to the states for higher education. He is a sports enthusiast and even gave the professional tennis tour a run after college before settling into consulting. Aditya lives with his wife, Cynthia, and their Yorkie Maltese, Chloe, in Irvine. They are expecting their next addition to the family shortly – a baby boy yet to be named.

Aditya's Story

Cynthia and I had enjoyed a perfect pregnancy. Our little girl, Nina, was developing well and all signs were positive, including the results from our regular OB check up two days prior. On the morning of August 5, 2020, at 40 weeks and 1 day, Cynthia hadn’t felt Nina move as she usually did after breakfast, however, we were not too concerned as her contractions had become more frequent overnight. We took our packed hospital bag and headed to HOAG. During triage, the nurses and doctors were unable to find a heartbeat on the ultrasound and we could see no movement on the screen and thus our nightmare began. We had an emergency c-section and the doctor confirmed that some hours earlier, Nina’s umbilical cord had a torsion that ruptured the vessel of the cord at the bellybutton which stopped blood flow and oxygen. We were told this was a complete fluke, around a 1 in 10,000 chance, and due to the rarity of the event, there is no real data that can explain it. We were in a state of shock and to this day do not have an answer for what took our daughter away from us. We had the opportunity to hold Nina a total of 4 times between the hospital and the mortuary before scattering her ashes in the Pacific. Now all we can hold of her is a Memory Box which has her pictures and a lock of hair, amongst other precious items, given to us at the hospital by Forever Footprints. This is how we became familiar with the organization and have benefitted from the resources it has provided. We immediately wanted to get involved and support families suffering loss. It is our way of preserving Nina’s legacy so that she can continue to positively impact the lives of others and help them cope and hope.
Kristyn von Rotz

Kristyn von Rotz

Founder

More about Kristyn

Kristyn von Rotz is the Founder of Forever Footprints. As founder and executive director, Kristyn grew the organization from a small, local remembrance walk to a multifaceted nonprofit organization that has served tens of thousands of individuals impacted by miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy loss, and infant death. Kristyn is honored to have served the pregnancy and infant loss community for more than 16 years.  Forever Footprints was started in memory of Kristyn’s firstborn son Joseph Thomas, who was born on July 8, 2004. In the same moment she said hello to her newborn son, she said goodbye, as he died in her arms. Kristyn is also the mother to Leah, Evan, and Sara, and a baby lost to early miscarriage. Kristyn and her husband Mark live in Villa Park, California. Kristyn works as a freelance editor and writer and is a graduate of Chapman University (Bachelor of Arts in English, emphasis in Journalism and a minor in Philosophy). She also studied at Regent’s College in London, England. She is the proud recipient of the Oliver Halsell Care Award, the Forever Footprints Compassion Award, and the Chapman University Distinguished Alumni Award.

Kristyn's Story

Finding out I was pregnant was the most joyous day of my life. My husband Mark and I had married 6 months prior, and we were so excited to add a baby to our new life together. I was 24 years old, healthy, and had a very normal pregnancy. At our 19-week ultrasound, we got the news we were expecting a boy, and we got to see his little face, hands, and feet. But just moments after we left, we got an urgent call to come back the next day for an appointment with a specialist. All night we worried about what might be wrong with our baby, but how, no matter what, we would love him and take care of him. It never occurred to me that our baby might die. It’s just not something I had ever heard of. Hours later, our world came crumbling down when the doctor told us our son, whom we had named Joseph Thomas, had a rare and fatal brain abnormality and he would die. The days that followed were a blur. We faced the decision of where to bury him, whether or not to have a funeral, and tried to cope with the fact that our baby was going to die. After many days of preterm labor, I delivered our tiny baby boy. He was just 1 pound and 13 inches. He lived for just a short time and died in my arms. The ache in my heart and the feeling of having empty arms was so overwhelming. I came home and immediately looked online for support. It was difficult to find. But I found a local support group I started to attend. Without that, I would have been lost. But in the days to come, I realized I needed to do something to help others who had lost a baby, and I needed to do something to honor Joseph’s memory. Thus, OC Walk to Remember was born. I’ve gone on to have three living children, and I also experienced an early miscarriage. The organization is a huge part of mine and my family’s life, and I’m so honored to be a part of it.

Advisory Committee

Mark F. von  Rotz, CPA

Mark F. von Rotz, CPA

CPA and Advisory Committee Member

More about Mark

Mark F. von Rotz, CPA, is a tax and advisory services partner at White Nelson Diehl Evans (WNDE) in Irvine, California. He is an income tax generalist, specializing in tax planning and compliance, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Mark heads the recruiting effort for the tax department at WNDE and speaks to college students about the profession, the firm and how to succeed in the industry. He earned a B.S. in Accounting from California State University, Fullerton in 1997 and earned his CPA designation in 2001. He lives in Orange with his wife and three children.

Mark's Story

I am the proud dad to Joseph Thomas von Rotz, who was born and died on July 8, 2004. Volunteering for the organization since its founding has been an honor. After Joseph died it was hard to express my feelings, but being able to put time and effort to help the organization succeed has been a positive experience for me. Joseph was alive for only a short time, but he has impacted our family and so many other people in a positive way. I’m constantly amazed at the strength that families have after the loss of a baby. A quote that is very special to my wife and is representative of our love for Joseph is: “Sometimes love is for a moment. Sometimes love is for a lifetime. Sometimes a moment is a lifetime”.

Robert Pagliarini

Robert Pagliarini

Advisory Committee Member

More about Robert

Robert Pagliarini is the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm that focuses exclusively on serving affluent individuals and sudden wealth recipients. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner who also has a master’s degree in financial services and another master’s degree in clinical psychology. Robert is an avid reader and writer. In addition to authoring three bestselling books, he also writes a weekly column for CBS News, which is syndicated to newspapers across the country. Robert is frequently called upon by the media for his financial expertise. He has been featured as a financial expert on Dr. Phil, 20/20, Good Morning America, Fox Business, ABC News, Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, and in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Money Magazine, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, CNN, and has appeared on hundreds of radio programs. When not working, Robert enjoys going to Disneyland with his wife and young daughter, training for triathlons, and running a non-profit he co-founded called the Band of Brothers Foundation that helps impoverished kids around the world.