Tomorrow, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas will unveil a new sculpture in its healing garden. “Gabriel,” a rugged angel wing made of of fossilized bluestone by artist Bobby Jacobs, will rest there in honor of Ben Breedlove. Breedlove died Christmas Day 2011 at age 18 from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that caused his heart muscle to thicken.

“Gabriel” by Bobby Jacobs is dedicated to the memory of Ben Breedlove.

Ben Breedlove loved to wakeboard. It was one of the sports he could do, but he had to be careful that the water temperature was not too cold.
Breedlove Family photo

After he died, his family found two YouTube videos, “This is My Story, Part 1 and 2” that he had posted. The videos were about the time earlier that month that he had died and had gone to what he called the waiting room of heaven before coming back to earth. The videos have been watched by more than 13 million people in 30 countries. His sister, Ally, wrote a book about Ben and the experience of finding the video. 

The sculpture is a gift by the artist and his wife Elizabeth Bryan Jacobs, who is an artist as well and wrote the books “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings,” and “Soul Models: Transformative Stories of Courage and Compassion.”

The couple loved Ben’s story and wanted to do something in his memory They reached out to Ben’s parents, Deanne and Shawn Breedlove, about donating a sculpture and having it at Dell Children’s, where Ben was often a patient and where Deanne Breedlove still volunteers on the family advisory council.

The sculpture is fitting of Ben, Deanne Breedlove says. “He told us he believed and felt that an angel came to him and comforted him, and he had great faith. It’s a very good symbol for Ben’s faith and thankfulness,” she says.

She thinks of the families that will be in the healing garden and see this angel and be reminded of God’s peace and presence. “They do a lot out there in the garden,” she says. “It’s really for the kids.”

For the Breedloves, Deanne says their big thing in life is “to focus on the thankfulness that we had sweet Ben with us as long as we did,” she says. “He was a huge gift to our family.”

Each Christmas, they try to do something that has to do with Ben, either to play the annual monopoly game that he loved or watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The sculpture will be one more way to remember Ben Breedlove each time Deanne Breedlove volunteers at Dell Children’s or another family walks near the shady spot where
Ben Breedlove’s angel wing rests.