Sterling Strong: Gary couple encourage blood donations after daughter's death

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CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Gary, Indiana couple's daughter lives on through their efforts to encourage more blood donations.

At just 8 months old, Sterling Nova Lynn Raspe made a major mark on the world.

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"She is feisty," said her mother, Maddie Raspe. "She was a little fighter, she had such cute little attitude on her."

Diagnosed with a rare heart disease called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Sterling's life began with some curve balls.

"At one week old, she had her first major heart surgery done," her mom said.

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Sterling Raspe passed away in 2020, but her life left a lasting impression on the hearts of those who loved her most.

"All together, 247 days she was on this earth with us. And we got to love on her every single second," Maddie Raspe said.

Her parents said watching their daughter undergo multiple surgical procedures opened their eyes to the importance of blood donations.

"Literally seeing this blood save her life right in front of us," her mom said. "I vowed to myself in that waiting room that I would have a blood donation for her in that very moment."

They said the experience also taught them a lesson about true strength.

"How can I complain about anything, when my girl is going through all of this," said her father, Kingsley Raspe.

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The couple is now encouraging everyone to give blood, especially during a time of severe shortage.

"It could be you. It could be your child, could be your grandchildren. We never expected we were gonna have a sick child," he added.

And one needle prick could mean the world to a family.

"I'm just thankful that these selfless blood donations gave us more memories with her, like the New Year's kiss," her mom said.

Sterling's life inspired her parents to host periodic blood drives in her honor. But if you'd like to donate soon, sign up for the Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 12-13 in various locations.
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