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Walk helps families remember

October 21, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - About 50 people with a common bond they never expected to share united for an annual remembrance walk Sunday.

Families of a dozen children who died before birth or shortly after gathered for the seventh Walk to Remember at Memorial Park and released a stream of pink, blue and white balloons skyward in tribute.

"It just gives people a place and tangible way to remember a life," said Joyce Peckman, a registered nurse who works with prenatal patients at Keystone Medical Center in Chambersburg. "It's nice to be with people who have had a similar experience."

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Stacy and Tony Armstrong have been coming to the Walk to Remember since 1997.

In April of that year, the Armstrongs' son, Andrew, was stillborn.

"This helps us remember him," Stacy Armstrong said. "We don't get to have a birthday party for him, so this is it."

The Armstrongs, of Chambersburg, said they use the opportunity to talk to other parents who have had the same experience.

Although they were not there Sunday, the Armstrongs said their other children, Cody Eichelberger, 10, and Abigail Armstrong, 3, normally come along.

"In the past Cody has written messages on the balloons to his little brother," Tony Armstrong said as he was handed a blue balloon.

Becky Sadler, of Greencastle, Pa., and several family members paid tribute to her first daughter, Kali, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in October 1999, less than four weeks after her birth.

"Right after she died I came to the walk and went to SIDS meetings," Sadler said.

She said the support group put her in touch with another mother she could turn to for support. Sadler said she is now helping other parents cope with their losses and will continue to attend the annual walk.

"It's really good to remember her. It helps to be close to other parents who have lost a child," Sadler said.

Sunday's walk was organized by the Resolve Through Sharing/Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Parent Support Group. It included the reading of the names of the babies who died from miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirths and SIDS.

Poems and readings from families followed, and the event finished with a walk and the releasing of the balloons.

Pink balloons remembered baby girls. The blue ones were for boys, and the white symbolized the babies whose gender was unknown.

Some balloons carried messages like "You're in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. We miss you and love you." A blue balloon said "You will never be forgotten." Others simply said "baby" or a birth date.

The group holds the walk every October, which is national Perinatal Bereavement Month, encompassing the deaths of children during pregnancy, labor and after delivery.

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