The Inspiration Behind Fort Safety
Laura Gwen Winstanley is the unofficial vice-president of Fort Safety and the primary reason why John, her father, created Fort Safety.
Why? No matter what obstacles, setbacks, challenges, or impossible odds life gave Laura, she faced them with a smile, peace beyond all understanding, and a little bit of mischief. It was that perseverance and tenacity in life that inspired everyone around her. It became apparent that this was her purpose in life: to change lives and to give hope where there is none.
Life for Laura was a fight against all odds from the day she was born. Due to unexplained complications, Laura was born 12 weeks early, at a tiny 1 pound 13 oz. The doctors were not confident that the baby would survive the emergency C-section...but they didn’t know about Laura Gwen yet. Laura announced her arrival by letting out a big cry and squeezing her worried Dad's finger. It took 5 very long months of 24/7 care in the Neo Intensive Care Unit care before Laura was able to come home.
At the age of 2, Laura was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease, also called Mito. Mito is a broad range of genetic disorders that affect many parts of the body, and to which there isn't a cure. The disease is progressive, and due to its complexity, there is no expected timeline in terms of life expectancy.
Over the next 4 years, Laura gave life all she had. She loved going to school, painting with her classmates, and watching her brother play. However, after 7 years of fighting her way through life, her little body ran out of energy.
At the memorial service (standing room only) teachers, doctors, school bus drivers, therapists, and others close to Laura got up on stage one by one to say how much little Laura, who couldn't speak and was confined to a wheelchair, meant to them.
It was during these testimonies about his daughter that John had the inspiration for an organization that what would later become FORTSAFETY. He realized that day, that if his daughter could change so many people's lives without saying a word...why couldn’t he with a voice and various life experiences do the same.
It became clear to John that when it comes to our children, there is no “tomorrow”. Parents cannot be passive when it comes to keeping their children safe. This mission of “Protecting Kids and Strengthening Families” would continue his daughter's legacy of impacting lives and giving those who are facing hardships hope. FortSafety was born. Rest in peace little princess.
John Winstanley's life changed forever on a sunny day in October 2010...
That was the day his 8-year-old son was exposed to pornography on a school bus. He was incensed that he was powerless to protect his child from another child’s device and frustrated that there was nobody he could go to for help to learn how to protect children from digital threats.
We live in an era of constantly evolving digital advances, which makes it impossible for most parents and educators to keep up with these advances which results in our children being in state of constant danger from unknown cyber threats.
As an engineer, as father, and someone who had experience with digital addiction, John knew this was a problem he wanted to solve. So inspired by his daughter Laura's courageous fight against mitochondrial disorder.