Thanking Knox: A story of strength, community & legacy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Thanking Knox: A story of strength, community & legacy

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A pain no parent should have to live through.

For the last year, one local family has dedicated their lives to ensuring other families are able to continue to hold their babies close each and every night.

"It wasn't anything that anyone did wrong. It was SIDS and what we know about SIDS is for whatever reason there is a part of his brain that wasn't developed that told him to take the next breath while he was asleep. There are no symptoms. No signs for it," said Elisha Palmer of La Porte City.

His name is Knox, a seemingly perfectly healthy happy baby. He was just three-months-old when he went down for a nap and never woke up.

It was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, just as the name sounds, the silent killer leaving parents feeling helpless.

"As a parent, you play things over in your head a million times, you think maybe this caused it, maybe if I would have done this differently, maybe I should have just picked him up," said Elisha.

From their pain and loss, Mark and Elisha Palmer found a purpose; a way to make Knox's three months of smiles count for more than another statistic.

"Feeling that amount of pain. It was just, I don't know what we are going to do, but we can't let anyone else feel this," said Elisha.

The answer was a tiny mint-colored smart sock that gives peace of mind. The sock, called an Owlet, allows parents to monitor a baby's oxygen levels and heart rate.

"It started with a name, Knox Blocks, his nickname at his daycare. It just kind of turned into the foundation," said Mark Palmer.

The Palmers gave soon-to-be dad and friend Ryan Kibsgaard the first Owlet from the Knox Blocks Foundation last spring.

"We didn't know how to thank Elisha, we were joyful we got it," said Kibsgaard, who is now the Vice President of the foundation. "The best way I knew how to was to figure out how we could repay them or how we could help them out."

Kibsgaard reached out to Owlet and secured a one for one match.

Over the last year, Knox Blocks has surpassed their goal of gifting a hundred Owlets. To date, the foundation has given 1,300 Owlets to watch over babies like twins Jenna and Lennon, who spent their first two weeks in the hospital.

"You have no way of knowing what their heart rate is doing after you have watched it for every minute of every day for the last two weeks. It was just a sense of relief,” said Allyson Schwab. 

Each and every Owlet giving parents an extra set of eyes and filling the smallest piece of the enormous hole Knox left behind.

“One response we get is when we have given an Owlet and a family has used it for several months, they send a letter or an email with an update or a thank you," said Elisha. "It is not even really thanking us, but it is thanking Knox. They will say, 'We just want you to know, we tell our kids about Knox. Knox is in our prayers every single night.' That means more to us than anything.”

This December, a year to the day the Palmers laid Knox to rest, Knox sent the Palmers a new reason to smile.

“It was just such a horribly sad day for us and now, we have this joy on that day. It's not just filled with sorrow and tragedy, but it is just the beginning of something beautiful,” said Elisha.

With one phone call from a friend, Knox Blocks came full circle.

“She was crying and she said, 'We have a patient here and she is pregnant. She wants to give her baby up for adoption and I told her about Knox Blocks. She just knows in her heart that you are supposed to be her parents," recalls Elisha. "Yes, tell her yes! I hadn't talked to Mark yet. Yes, tell her we want this baby. Then I told him and he was good with it.”

It was without a doubt a yes to Maverick Owen Palmer.

The Palmers say using the Owlet themselves has only strengthened their belief in the foundation's work.

"Experiencing what we did with Knox, I don't know we could keep our sanity really without our Owlet," said Elisha.

"It was definitely that feeling of relief when we got home and got it all hooked up," continued Mark.

"I have never cried with so much relief before," said Elisha.

Baby Maverick will bring the next chapter to his brother's legacy.

"Maverick will take Knox Blocks to another level. There are so many things that we have realized after having him and using the Owlet. This year we want to focus on how we can help parents with infancy CPR and SIDS education," said Elisha.

Something they couldn't do without the incredible support of the Cedar Valley.

"Absolutely, unexpected. It is all of our community, the support we have had from community and friends, and people all over the U.S.," said Mark.

For more information on the Knox Block Foundation, how to get involved, or to apply for an Owlet, visit

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