The day before our race was one of rain and darkness. Hail fell from the sky and thunder boomed throughout the Baton Rouge area. Yet, after the storm – on race day -- the sun was shining, and we felt the warmth of the sun on our faces. It was the perfect representation of what Anna’s Grace is all about - bringing warmth and compassion to those who have experienced the storminess of baby loss.
Our 2nd Annual Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon was a great success, and we’d like to thank all who participated. Our overall winner for the 1 Mile Fun Run was Jourdan McKinney who finished in 8:35. Our overall male winner of the Quarter Marathon was Jason Cheek with an amazing finish at 46:33! Meghan Hurst led the ladies to the finish line with a time of 52:13. Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who crossed the finish line!
We had close to 400 registered to run for the 1 in 4 thanks to our running teams. Congratulations to the winner of our Most Participants on a Team Award, Team S.O.B.B., which had 56 members on their team!
Our fundraising efforts also surpassed our expectations. As this was our first year of team fundraising, we set our goal at $5,000. Well, we blew past that thanks to our awesome teams! We had three teams over $1,000, and Strides for the Sweetpeas took home the award for top fundraising team by raising $2,550. Wow!
There were many families and groups remembering and celebrating sweet babies at our event. Many wore meaningful shirts or costumes. It was so heartwarming to see the love for the 1 in 4 on display. As difficult as it was to choose a winner for our inaugural costume contest, there was no denying that Maddry Grace’s Ladybugs were super cute. And so, the award went to that awesome group!
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of our great sponsors. We’d like to thank the generous and compassionate people at The Belle of Baton Rouge, Mistletoe Market, Assurance Financial, ISC Constructors, Resthaven Garden of Memory & Funeral Home, Stemmans & Alley, Quality Court Industries, the Krewe of Artemis, A & J Designs, and Relief Windows.
Runners’ Alley was a hit thanks to Manda Fine Meats, NOLA Brewing Co., Mountain Brook Water, Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Company, and Capitol City Produce. We would also like to thank the great guys from Physical Therapy & Hand Center for providing their services to our runners before and after the big race.
Toby Tomplay and Choupique Cajun Band provided the perfect musical soundtrack for our day. And sweet prizes for our winners were provided by Sky Zone, 13th Gate Escape (in honor of Briar Paul Hatfield), Laser Tag of Baton Rouge, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Blue Bayou Water Park/Dixie Landin’, and The Backpacker. Door prizes and giveaways were generously provided by Stroubes and TJ Ribs/Ruffino’s/Tio Javi’s.
Remembering and celebrating our babies would not have been as beautiful without the kindness of the people at Snelson Signs and Decals who provided the memorial signs that lined our courses and at Louisiana Fire Extinguisher who provided the helium for our balloons that filled the sky at our Remembrance Celebration. We thank Pot-O-Gold for their steadfast support of our event and Printing Tech for their generous help with all of our printing needs.
The 2017 Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon was simply wonderful. See for yourself by viewing the photos captured by KO Photography! Thank you, Kim, for sharing your talent with us again this year.
In the days that followed the race, we received five phone calls from families needing our assistance. They are now members of our loss community and, because of you, we were able to give them the support they requested and to assure them that they are not alone – that an entire group of people are here to carry them until they find their footing again after their storm. It was a reminder that our mission to support those who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss continues.
And so, we’ll be back in 2018. We hope that you will join us as we run for the 1 in 4!
Words – one of the most powerful forces on earth. They can hurt, or they can heal. They can comfort, or they can distress. Yet, when you are part of the 1 in 4, there are often many words left unspoken – words meant for your precious little one that often weigh heavy on your heart: lullabies left unsung, nursery rhymes left unread, lessons left unlearned. Some families find solace in giving their unspoken words a voice. Whether it is recording their feelings in a daily journal or penning a song or a poem, there is something about the written word that can bring comfort. A couple of weeks ago, we invited our followers to take to their computers to compose letters to their precious babies and to share these sweet notes with us. It was an invitation to open your hearts and pour out your emotions, whatever they might have been. There were no rules, only your words. A number of courageous moms shared their letters with us. These are their words:
Sweet Baby girl legend has it that a ladybug was named for the Virgin Mary who assisted farmers once they prayed to her. Keeping fields safe from harm. A Ladybug's life is short. It teaches us to release worries and enjoy experiences to the fullest. A messenger of promise when the ladybug appears in our lives it is telling us to "let go and let God." I know you are with us and watching over your little brother as Ladybugs always show up in our path unexpectedly, it brings the biggest smile to my face so thank you sweet girl for that! I'll see you soon and can't wait for you to tell me all your memories you have made in heaven.
I think of you both often. I realize everything I have is because of your short existence. I yearn to hold you. I long to see your face and smell you in. I look at your brother and sister and realize how very lucky I am to have them, and I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have you two as well. I held you your entire lives, and still hold you in my heart. Although it seems as if the healing process has run its course and life has moved along swiftly, there is not a moment in the day that I don't think about you. I see you in everything...the unexpected butterfly, the rainbows, the clouds, my dreams. You are my driving force to do better, to make you proud. When I think I can't, I remember you both and wish you could, so I do. I look at Lillian and wonder what you, our sweet twin, would be like. Did you have her personality? Her blonde, blonde hair and blue eyes? I wish I knew why we couldn't keep you, you were so very wanted, both of you. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't change life. I am more grateful because of you, and I am more compassionate because of you. Thank you both for that. I will forever love you.
Austin, my precious boy, I love you so much. I think of you so often and my heart fills with so much joy and pride that you are my son. I am honored to be your mommy. I know you are having such a wonderful time with Jesus in such peace and splendor and with so many friends. Your sister speaks of you often. She loves you. The day we join you in eternal life will be one glorious day. I can just see you holding Jesus’s hand walking towards me at those beautiful gates. Oh that day I get to hug you and kiss your cheeks, will be so wonderful. We’re working hard buddy to get to you and Jesus. You probably already know that you’re a big brother. Daddy and I have decided to give the baby your first name as his or her middle name. I hope he or she feels honored to have your name. We love you buddy. You are always in our hearts.
About Anna’s Grace Foundation Anna’s Grace Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting families in the Greater Baton Rouge Area who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. Each and every day one of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, or family members will experience the devastating loss of a baby, and Anna’s Grace is there to provide emotional and financial support so that families can focus on healing.