Cute as a Bug

She was cute as a bug, but now she’s gone.

Natalie Anne Siemek was so little that her father, Dan, nicknamed her Bug.  Born with Hypoplastic heart syndrome, she lived only 15 short months.

 How does a family keep the memory of a loved one alive while still moving forward? The Siemeks wanted to find a way. Bug is alive in their daily lives through conversation, memories and photographs, but how else could they make something positive out of this devastating loss?

Dan Siemek will tell you that keeping the memory of Bug alive through Bugs Pals, the organization they started to honor Bug, is their way of turning grief into a continued celebration of the beautiful baby girl they lost to heart disease. The family channeled the force of their grief into helping others. THAT’S how Bugs Pals began.

Bugs Pals stickers are often seen here in the southwest suburbs although not surprisingly, the story is catching on. I’ve seen the blue Bugs Pals stickers on cars as far north as Evanston! The blue heart sticker displayed on the back window of a vehicle is meant to represent babies with heart problems that are often called “blue babies.”

When you purchase a blue Bugs Pals heart, $1 goes to Hope Children’s hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. The powerful message and purpose of the Bugs Pals heart serves as a reminded for all of us to keep those who we miss close to our hearts.

Bugs Pals latest adventure is a toy drive for Hope Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. This is not a new thing for Bugs Pals. Dan has been doing toy drives for a few years now.

What makes this year different is the Star Wars theme and the involvement of the 501st Midwest Garrison, a Star Wars Imperial costume organization. I’M NOT KIDDING ABOUT THE AWESOMENESS OF THIS! Sorry for yelling but I’m really excited because these toys are going to be delivered by dudes dressed up as characters from STAR WARS!

It’s not fun to think about the suffering or death of a child, but ignoring the reality doesn’t make it go away. Approximately 8 of every 1,000 children born have some sort of congenital heart disease. Kids get sick. They die. They deserve to smile while they are living.

 Every day small children and their families are making memories inside the walls of hospitals. Some kids spend as much time in-patient as they do in school. It’s not just Christmas time that these children and families need a little brightness in their day, and Bugs Pals is working to make sure they get a little joy whenever they are hospitalized.

YOU CAN HELP. I know that many of my fans are not in the Chicago-land area but you can do this kind of thing in your own community.  There are a few drop boxes here in my neck of the woods, but I WANT MORE! I want anyone in the city limits or the burbs to be able to find a drop box.

 I am looking for small businesses around the Chicago-land area that are willing to have a drop box for this amazing toy drive. Hell, I’m looking for big businesses as well. I’ll make the box and bring the box to your business, if you are willing to have a drop box for this toy drive. It’s true. I will.

We are looking for all things STAR WARS; action figures, Legos, coloring books, stickers, and anything else you can find. You can find my email on the FAQ’s page if you want to get involved. You can find Bugs Pals on Facebook. All you need to do is get the word out and sacrifice a day of Starbucks.


The week that Bug died, she took her first steps. Carrie, Bug’s mom, has Bug’s tiny footprints tattooed on her feet. Bug walks with Carrie and the rest of her family. They keep her memory alive by helping others get the lift they need as their families walk with their sick children. I’m asking you to walk with them by supporting Bugs Pals with this toy drive.

The force is strong in Moms who drink and swear. Bug was here. Let’s remember her by becoming one of Bugs Pals.

As Yoda would say, Hope there IS for these families AND be a part of it you CAN!

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  • How can I help out? I would love to purchase a bunch of Star Wars items and donate them - or what else? Let me know. What a beautiful little "Bug", tragic :(

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    In reply to teporama:

    I want to go in with troops dressed as old school Princess Leia! Big Bun Ears 4 Bugs!

    Sending you a pic-nic! ;)

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    Okay, the foot prints across mom's feet put me over the edge. Wish I lived closer Nic, I would totally donate something and get involved.

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