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Runners run where Angels can fly

Rachel's Gift held their annual Angel Dash to benefit the families of infant loss.

Runners+begin+their+5K+run.+The+Strong+Rock+Christian+School+cross+country+team+led+the+race.
Runners begin their 5K run. The Strong Rock Christian School cross country team led the race.

Runners begin their 5K run. The Strong Rock Christian School cross country team led the race.

Bronlyn Holland

Bronlyn Holland

Runners begin their 5K run. The Strong Rock Christian School cross country team led the race.

Bronlyn Holland, Sports Editor

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On Saturday, Oct. 21, Rachel’s Gift hosted their annual Angel Dash 5K and one mile walk at Strong Rock Christian School. There were teams, families, mothers and children running/ walking this race.

Rachel’s Gift is an organization, which helps mothers and families with the beginning steps following an infant loss and assist them through the grieving process.

“We go into the hospitals and we train the nursing staff. We train them on how to help mom bond with the baby and have that physical time with the baby while she’s there. We also train the nurses on how to collect and what to collect of all the different keepsakes they can get to send home with mom and dad, since that is all they are ever going to have. We also train them on how to offer the different options for end of life, whether they are going to do cremation, burial, and we train the nurses on how to talk those moms through all of those decisions… They were preparing for a new life, not to have to bury their child, ” Lori Beth Blaney, president of Rachel’s Gift, said.

Blaney created this organization when she was in an accident and lost her baby.

“Back in 2006, I was eight months pregnant with my daughter Rachel and we lost her due to an automobile accident. Through the journey that I went through trying to navigate that grief and that loss, reaching out to other moms and finding out there’s a lot for after, as far as support groups… but during the time of crisis when your in the hospital and you actually have the baby there with you and you have to collect every keepsake you’re ever going to have… There wasn’t a lot to help you navigate through that and help you know, and so that’s where the whole idea of Rachel’s Gift came from,” Blaney said.

With her having to go through this experience, she has been able to help many families who have or are having to go through similar situations. Blaney wants them to not feel like they are alone through this.

“Once they [moms] get home, we do have a one year follow up program with those moms. We check in with them. We do have support groups and different things that they can attend,” Blaney said.

Michelle Daniels, growth and development for Rachel’s Gift, has been with Rachel’s Gift since 2008. Daniels has been able to help many families the past nine years of her service.

“The families that we go to serve, each one of them receives a keepsake box and that box has different items: a blanket, an outfit, hand imprint. They also can get photos taken through the facility that they deliver at. There’s also resources four our support groups, as well as some counseling afterwards for them to get the resources they need,” Daniels said.

The Angel Dash is held to benefit the families during the grieving process and gives Rachel’s Gift more opportunities. Tonia O’Neill, a fellow mom and runner, ran in the Angel Dash for the first time and made it special by celebrating her late son, Beckett, who would have been five years old.

“Five years ago, on October the 19th, Beckett was born. I was a premature labor. I was in the hospital for three weeks and he was born about 12 o’ clock. He weighed one pound and four ounces. We stayed in the hospital for two days and after those two days, the doctors and nurses did what they could do and he passed away about 12 o’ clock on October the 21st, 2012,” O’Neill said.

 

With the situation O’Neill had to go through, she believes Rachel’s Gift is a great outreach to those other moms.

“I think they are fantastic. I think they’ve really grown within the community. I think they are great outreach program for women who have experienced a loss one way or another. It’s nice to have someone that supports and that you can go to for assistance when you’ve never experienced anything like this,” O’Neill said.

Another mom who came and supported Rachel’s Gift was Samara Brennan. Brennan was in a similar situation like O’Neill had to journey through.

“In 2011, my son Nathan was still born at 41 weeks and Rachel’s Gift provided the bereavement box in my hospital room and it included a blanket and some items and so I got hooked up with them… I thought is was pretty amazing, because you know when your baby dies there’s a stigma to it . There’s kinda some shame to it. You’re not really sure if you’re supposed to speak about your baby or not. They came in and made him very, a livable thing… The fact that somebody took the time to make the blanket and it’s like they cared about him as much as I did,” Brennan said.

She has been coming to the Angel Dash since 2013 and has set up a table since. She hands out her book to participants called “Good Grief ” where she explains the journey and combines grief with good.

For more information about Rachel’s Gift and the Angel Dash to volunteer, information can be found at http://www.rachelsgift.org/

 

 

Runners begin their warm ups before the race. Lisa Cox helped warm up the runners on the field and at the starting line.

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