Charlie’s Story

Turning a tragic loss into a catalyst for change.

On April 6, 2010, college sweethearts Sam and Maura Hanke welcomed their first child into the world. Charlie Paul Hanke was beautiful and healthy, and the new parents were elated.

Just 3 weeks later, on April 28, Sam and Maura experienced the most devastating loss a parent can imagine. The night before, like so many new fathers do, Sam laid down on the couch with Charlie asleep on his chest. Sam woke up, but Charlie didn’t. At just 3 weeks old, Charlie had died from SIDS, brought on by an unsafe sleep environment.

Sam is a pediatric cardiologist, and Maura was a kindergarten teacher. They were as prepared and diligent as two new parents could be. In the midst of their grief, Sam and Maura realized that if this tragedy could happen to them, it could happen to anyone.

Charlie and Paul reading
Charlie loved being read to.

So on the day that should have been his first birthday, they started the Charlie’s Kids Foundation, to honor Charlie’s memory, and to do everything in their power to help prevent other parents from experiencing the same loss they had.

Charlie’s Kids mission is to advocate safe sleep to prevent infant death.

We leverage a unique combination of medical expertise and our own personal experience, to educate both parents and the medical community about SIDS and safe sleep.

Whether it’s through our children’s book, “Sleep Baby Safe and Snug,” our partnership with organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, or through a growing body of digital content, Charlie’s Kids is devoted to helping parents protect their babies, by using the fundamentals of safe sleep.

Most importantly, we know safe sleep is hard. We also know it’s worth it.


Who we are

We exist to create a world where every infant wakes up from every sleep.

We are Partners

We leverage personal experience, medical expertise, and deep empathy to educate, advocate, and partner with infant-health organizations and the general public.

We are Educators

We teach and promote safe-sleep practices using a wide variety of mediums and platforms, from children’s books to digital content.

We are Advocates

We give voice to the precious little ones who can’t speak for themselves. To give parents and caregivers the tools and perseverance to do the hard work of safe sleep.

View our Board and Team Members