Twenty-seven-year-old Lesley Zerebny was responding to a domestic disturbance call on October 8 when she was suddenly shot and killed on the scene along with Officer Jose “Gil” Vega.
Lesley had been serving for the Palm Springs Police Department for one year, and Jose had been on the team for 35 years when the tragedy occurred. He wasn’t even supposed to be on duty that night.
Even more tragically, Lesley had just returned to work from maternity leave, and she left behind her 4-month-old daughter, Cora, as well as her husband, Zachary.
Lesley was still breastfeeding Cora when she died, meaning her baby girl was left with no milk.
Almost immediately, California moms rallied together to donate their own breastmilk in order to help the Zerebny family. Within just 24 hours, over 500 ounces of breastmilk had been collected and delivered in a cooler to Zachary—it was enough to feed Cora for a month.
On it was a label marked with a single blue-striped flag reading, “In this family, No one fights alone.”
A week later, Zachary received enough to feed her for an entire year…
For people still desiring to donate, the Palm Springs Police Officers Association started encouraging people to send Enfamil reguline formula directly to the department.
Zachary was completely overwhelmed by the gracious support of so many strangers following his wife’s death.
After the milk is tested and screened, he will have more than enough to nourish his baby girl until she’s a strong and healthy toddler.
The Palm Springs Police Department is now asking potential contributors to donate to a local milk bank or hospital in Lesley’s name to help feed other babies in need, since her family has received more than an adequate supply.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up in memory of Lesley, and it has already met $131,000 of its $175,ooo goal.
What a remarkable display of humanity from these kind strangers. God calls us not only to love one another through prayer and empathy, but through action in reaching out a helping hand to those in need. And that’s exactly what these lovely mamas did.
As stated by KTVU’s Claudine Wong, “This is not about breast milk or formula, it’s about the human heart and about the desire and the capacity of people to give.”