Charlee's Run for neonatal care breaks record
BARRIE, ONT. -- A family's mission to raise both money and awareness for neonatal and infant loss has reached new heights.
The fifth annual 'Charlee's Run' was held virtually this year and managed to raise a record-breaking $115,000. The event was started by Dave and Mallory Holmes in honour of their daughter Charlee who passed away just after her birth.
"We couldn't be doing this without the support of the community," said Dave Holmes. "It's not just us. I know it's named in memory of our daughter, but it really is for all those little lives that were lost too soon."
The couple's baby girl Charlee lost her life immediately after birth on April 29, 2011, at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital. It was five years later that the family decided to use their pain to help others.
"When we lost her, that loss was accompanied with such grief and such loneliness," said mother, Mallory. "We thought that no family should ever have to feel that alone when they are going through the worst loss, you can't even put it into words."
Since starting the run, the family has raised more than $300,000, with all funds going towards the hospital that was their daughter's only home. Money is earmarked for the neonatal intensive care unit and the pediatric unit, with new monitoring equipment and a bereavement cart filled with resources purchased in previous years.
This year, the hospital will be able to purchase two panda bedded warmers with resuscitation units, which centralize all necessary tools needed in a challenging birth, providing the best possible chance of a successful outcome.
The family is also making it their mission to spotlight the challenges they and so many others have gone through.
"The really the big goal in our eyes is to raise awareness surrounding pregnancy and infant loss because sadly 1 in 4 families will go through it," said Mallory. "1 in 4 families will lose a child, and we don't ever want a family to feel like there's no one to reach out to or there's not a community there for them, and Charlee's run has really exploded into this outlet for families and for the community."
The Holmes couple says they believe one of the biggest challenges with neonatal or early infant loss is an unclear approach, which can often lead to feelings of isolation."
"When you lose a child, there's really no words, and people don't know what to say, so often what happens is people don't say anything at all in fear that they are going to say the wrong thing," said Mallory. What happens is that creates this air of loneliness in that you are the only one that knew you were pregnant or you are the only one that knew you had the child, and as a parent, it's even more devastating because then you are wondering will anyone ever remember that this child lived or that I carried this child and the loneliness and stigma that comes with that is the hardest part."
The pair say they are completely overwhelmed by this year's record turnout. If people would like to donate, the hospital has an account set up for the fund that remains open to donations year-round.