“On April 5, 2013, I miscarried twins,” said Sharon Early, a Cartersville resident who participated in last year’s 5K Run. “One minute I was a mother-to-be and the next my womb was empty. The world around me seemed to move on too quickly while I was left behind, a grieving mother with no grave to visit. I longed for someone to understand, to reach out, to recognize my loss and that my babies had existed. In May, I saw the flier for the first Footprints on the Heart 5K. I attended with my husband and family and was comforted for the first time by many women who all knew the devastating loss I was living with every moment of every day.
“I had never run a 5K before, but wanted to do anything that helped me honor my babies. A year later I came across a picture of my husband and me crossing the finish line at the race, huge smiles on both of our faces. I was overcome with gratitude to Khristie [Staines] and the FOTH family for dedicating their lives to putting smiles back on the faces of women like me who once thought they would never smile again. I am so excited for this year’s 5K and to come together again with Footprints on the Heart to celebrate the memory of my dear twins, who were too beautiful for Earth.”
To raise awareness and education about this type of loss, the Footprints on the Heart 5K Run/1 Mile Walk will be held at Frankie Harris Park in Euharlee Saturday. After a 7:40 a.m. ceremony, runners and walkers will depart at 8 and 8:05 a.m., respectively. To enter, participants need to register — $30 for ages 14 and older and $15 for youth 13 and younger — on race day beginning at 6:45 a.m.
A balloon release will follow the 5K Run/1 Mile Walk at approximately 9:30 a.m., with more than 230 children being memorialized.
“Our upcoming 5K Run/1 Mile Walk and memorial balloon release, being held on May 31 at Frankie Harris Park in Euharlee, is going to be an event to show support to those who have been affected by the loss of a child in the first 24 months of life,” said Staines, who formed the organization with Lori Dowdy. “It is our goal to raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss by breaking the silence and encouraging conversation.
“We also serve as a liaison between families who are experiencing a loss and the resources and contacts that we have made in the course of the past 2 ½ years. This allows us to offer families knowledge on specific services [and] support that might be offered on a local or national level. At a time when emotions are very raw, the last thing a family wants to have to do is to be searching online for the just right poem, song, Bible verse, professional remembrance portraiture, burial costs, etc.”
In addition to the run, walk and balloon release, the event also will serve as a fundraiser for the organization. Bids will be placed on silent auction baskets, and Southern Scents Candles and barbecue sandwich plates will be available for purchase.
“This year we are so thankful to have had local businesses and individuals donate a variety of items for us to use as silent auction baskets so that we can raise funds for the community projects we hope to accomplish,” Staines said. “One such project is that we have worked with the local Cartersville/Bartow County Public Library System to donate a collection of titles centered on pregnancy and infant loss/grief. It has been a pleasure to work with Anne Henson to bring this project to fruition over the past year. We look forward to presenting this collection to the library shortly after our event.
“... We are also in the process of working with Cartersville Medical Center and Floyd Medical Center to see what bereavement services are offered and in what way Footprints on the Heart might be of assistance in meeting any needs that are currently unmet in our community. One project that we are already working on is getting donations of infant burial items into the local hospitals. Both CMC and FMC have expressed a need for these items. We have several local mothers who are helping to crochet, knit and hand stitch items that will be presented to the hospitals as soon as they are completed.”
Along with Dowdy and Staines, the organization currently is led by Ruthiey Boggs.
“I am thrilled to be a part of a group of ladies that has a passion for seeing support and healing among the pregnancy and infant loss community,” said Dowdy, who experienced a miscarriage in 2006. “It is only through this journey of Footprints on the Heart that my loss has even greater meaning.”
For more information about Footprints on the Heart, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/footprintsontheheart.ga or email firstname.lastname@example.org.