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Pooler Magazine

Faith, Love and Good Works: The Abbie DeLoach Foundation Turns Tragedy Into a Living Legacy

Faith, Love and Good Works: The Abbie DeLoach Foundation Turns Tragedy Into a Living Legacy

By Jimmy DeLoach Jr.

Life can turn upside down in an instant.

That’s what happened for me and all those who loved my older daughter, Abbie, on April 22, 2015. She and her fellow Georgia Southern University students were on their way to a final day of nursing rotations when they were involved in a tragic seven-vehicle wreck due to a distracted driver. Abbie and four of her nursing-student peers died.

When I lost Abbie, I lost a piece of myself. And I vowed that her passing wouldn’t define her, me or our family. I wanted to focus instead on all the good she brought into this world in 21 short years.

Abbie was a fierce athletic competitor yet gentle role model at her Savannah, Georgia, high school. She was captain of the volleyball and basketball teams. While attending Georgia Southern University and working toward a nursing degree, she was active on her Kappa Delta sorority’s competition-winning volleyball team. Abbie was a devoted Christian and the best sister that my younger daughter, Annie, could have wished for.

Although focusing on the positives doesn’t take away the grief or pain, I’ve learned how to move forward by taking one next step. I have a new drive and purpose to help others and keep Abbie’s loving spirit alive.

Guided by Good Works and Vocational Passion

I try to live how Abbie would want me to live. I discovered that I could best do that by forming the Abbie DeLoach Foundation. Founded in 2016, the foundation benefits organizations that reward academic excellence, exemplary service work and athletic commitment. To date, more than $1.25 million in scholarship revenue has been provided to nursing students, student athletes and outreach abroad. Its tagline is “live inspired” because we are inspired by Abbie’s love for life and good works as a student, an athlete and an aspiring nurse. 

The foundation holds two major events each year. It provides a scholarship luncheon and sponsors the True Blue 5K + Abbie’s Adventure Race, held on the Georgia Southern Campus during Homecoming Weekend to celebrate Abbie’s love of football and friends. Additionally, the annual #HandsFreeForAbbie campaign in April coincides with distracted driving awareness month.

Grateful for the Pooler Community

My family and I appreciate everyone in Pooler and its surrounding areas who have supported the Abbie DeLoach Foundation.

I grew up in Garden City and loved it. My family has long served in the community, starting with my father, Jimmy DeLoach. He served three terms as mayor of Garden City from 1973 to 1979 before being elected to represent Chatham County’s 7th District in 1980. He was re-elected to two more four-year terms. As a commissioner, he championed the first Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in 1983 and the installation of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler.

Many of my values were instilled from my dad, who was focused on faith and community. My family and I do what we believe is the right thing while being faithful, giving back and serving others.

My brother, Eddie DeLoach, has also been active in community service and was mayor of Savannah. And we are proud that the Abbie DeLoach Foundation has scholarship recipient alumni from Pooler.

Get involved

If you, too, desire to get involved and give back, the Abbie DeLoach Foundation welcomes your support. Here are some of the many ways you can help:

•          Pray for families that have suffered a loss of a loved one — especially a child.

•          Visit our website at to learn how you can participate. You can make a donation to go toward scholarships or outreach abroad, and sign up to run in Abbie’s Adventure Race. You can also sign up for our newsletter, read my weekly blog about life topics and how to cope with grief, and connect with us on social media. 

•          Take the pledge in April at, commit to end distracted driving and help spread the word on social media with #HandsFreeForAbbie. No parent should have to bury a child due to distracted driving.

Abbie’s time here was much too short, but the Abbie DeLoach Foundation keeps parts of her alive—her spirit, determination, competitiveness, caring nature, concern for others and compassion. Thank you for helping us do that.