A brief life with big impact

Christine Hoffman and her daughter Olivia in a 2008 photo.

This season of “comfort and joy” will forever be linked with heartbreak for the Hoffman family of Scottsdale. Eric and Christine Hoffman lost their young daughter on Friday, Dec. 10. Services will be held at 4pm Tuesday, Dec. 21 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 6300 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix.

Olivia Hoffman was 6 years old when RAK contributor Mary Ann Bashaw interviewed her mom for a story she was writing about Ryan House.

In “House of Hope,” Mary Ann described the story behind the founding of Ryan House, a pediatric palliative care facility that opened in Phoenix in March 2010.

Christine Hoffman  learned about Ryan House from a nurse during one of many hospital visits she made in 2005 with Olivia, who had metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a rare disorder that causes the protective coating around her nerves to slough away, leaving her with a complete loss of motor skills. Learn more about Olivia.

Olivia’s regression since birth was rapid. “Not only are you dealing with a child with a terminal illness, but you lose the child you knew, which is so difficult,” Hoffman said then. Olivia required 24/7 home care, which can be “very, very stressful because you’re always on alert. It zaps your energy,” said Hoffman. She knew Olivia’s visits to Ryan House would mean  “excellent medical care…in an environment where she’ll have a good time and enjoy herself.”

When Olivia Ann Hoffmann died Friday morning, she was 8½ years old. She was at home, surrounded by her family, and she died peacefully, her parents told friends and family in an email, which they forwarded to Mary Ann.

“We are incredibly blessed to have had Olivia in our lives as long as we did, and she will always live in our hearts and the hearts of everyone she touched,” they wrote.

As those same family members and friends gather at All Saints’ to celebrate Olivia’s short life, the rest of us could take an important step to commemorate it by making a donation to Ryan House in memory of the Hoffmans’ “sweet angel Olivia.”