October 15th marked the first event, The Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day, in the Madison area to honor the official day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance. Mikayla's Grace was honored to be part of this event to support all families who have experienced the loss of their child(ren) through pregnancy, stillbirth, or in early infancy along with families and friends of those parents. There were over 150 people at the event and another 15 famiies that chose to "Walk in Spirit." The Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day was the inspiration of Alissa Paulson-Cedars in memory of her daughter Kennedy Kate that who died in October 2009. You can read more about how Alissa and I met and started working on this event here. It was a chilly, and very windy, fall day but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day to honor the brief lives of our children. Please see below for all of the names read at the event that day. It is always heartbreaking to know that so many families have been touched by the loss of a child, but we are so thankful that no one has to feel alone in this type of loss. The event kicked off with an inspirational speaker, Linda Colletti who is a fellow babyloss mom, beautiful music by Terry and Jessica Helgestad, followed by reading of the babies names, a memorial walk around the park, and a dove release and bubbles to heaven. You can see more pictures here and here on our Facebook page. We raised close to $1500 the day of the event from the silent auction that will go to help more families in local hospitals and towards next year's event. We have already set a tenative date for Saturday, October 13th, 2012. We will be looking for help in planning the event next year and if you are interested please email email@example.com.
If you are still looking for something fun to do with your kids to celebrate Halloween this weekend, this Spooktacular Harvest Party is a free event hosted by Danielle Bradley of First Moments Photography. Danielle was Mikayla's photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and does so much to help bereaved parents in our community by being one of the NILMDTS area coordinators. The event sounds like a TON of fun and for a donation to Mikayla's Grace you'll get a digital image of your child(ren) all dressed up in their costumes!
On October 21st, we got the official word that Mikayla's Grace is the recipient of a $5000 Pepsi Refresh Grant. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who helped vote for us, without the votes of our supporters we wouldn't have had this opportunity. The last week of voting we received hundreds of power votes from a Girl Scout troop in New York who found Pepsi power vote caps while collecting recycling at their local ball parks. They went to the website and chose a project to give all the votes to. With the help of these girls and all of our supporters we finished #6 in our category. We should receive the first disbursement of the grant money in November and will be using this to provide another 60 angel memory boxes and 40-60 NICU care packages. Our first goal is to expand our donations to Meriter Hospital and we have a meeting set up with them in November to determne their needs. We are hoping to take a few months off for the holidays and host a HUGE work day in the spring and then make the donations to both St. Mary's and Meriter Hospital by May. The grant money has be be completely used by July of 2012, so we are going to be looking for some volunteers to help us complete this project. If you are able to help us plan the spring work day and organize the donations we would GREATLY appreciate your help. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss details.
There is a way that everyone can support bereaved parents by signing this petition to support the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 (S 1358). This amendment to the FMLA will expand coverage and existing benefits to employees that have experienced the death of a child. Currently parents are not covered for FMLA leave for the death of a child, which is one of the worst experiences that anyone can endure. I find it unacceptable that the death of a child is not included as a protected reason to qualify for the benefits that are set forth in the Family Medical Leave Act and I hope that you will take a moment to sign this petition to make the necessary modifications to FMLA benefits.