In honor of their stillborn daughter, Gahanna's Justin and Heather Johnston Welliver will host a 5K run to help families who have experienced pregnancy loss with Lydie's Loop: Steps Against Stillbirth.
In honor of their stillborn daughter, Gahanna's Justin and HeatherJohnston Welliver will host a 5K run to help families who have experienced pregnancy loss with Lydie's Loop: Steps Against Stillbirth.
Registration will begin at 9:15 a.m. Oct. 1 at Woodside Green Park, 213 Camrose Court. The Kids' Dash will begin at 9:45 a.m., followed by the 5K and 1 mile run at 10 a.m.
The event marks the beginning of National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, a national month of remembrance started in 1988 by then President Ronald Reagan.
HeatherJohnston Welliver was 33 years old when she was pregnant with Lydie in 2014.
During a doctor's appointment at week 34 of her pregnancy, a Doppler placed on her abdomen was met with silence.
The ultrasound confirmed her daughter's heart had stopped beating.
She said she checked into labor and delivery that evening, breaking into sobs as she sat down next to an empty bassinet.
After hours and hours of labor, her daughter, Lydia Joanne, was born on Nov. 6, 2014.
"She was perfect, but her umbilical cord was not,"Johnston Welliver said. "It had a small narrowing that lacked Wharton's Jelly, which keeps the cord from becoming entangled. In my womb, Lydie moved in a way that constricted her umbilical cord completely, like a garden hose. That narrowing that cost my daughter her life was never detected by any monitoring."
The couple spent six hours with their daughter, holding her, kissing her and telling her how much they loved her.
"We read to her the book 'Wherever You Go, My Love Will Find You' with the line, 'We wanted you more than you'll ever know, so we send love to follow wherever you go.'"
Johnston Welliversaid she and her husband honor Lydia in many different ways.
"A year ago, for Lydie's first birthday, we fundraised money and donated a Cuddle Cot to (Mount Carmel) St. Ann's Hospital, where Lydie and both of her siblings were born," she said. "The Cuddle Cot is a cooling unit that allows parents to spend more time with their stillborn child."
She said she felt called to plan Lydie's Loop, because she wanted to take some action.
"Rather than just comforting bereaved families, I wanted to work to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place,"Johnston Welliver said. "Stillbirths are entirely too common and little is being done."
She said one in 160 pregnancies ends in stillbirth.
That's 26,000 babies in the United States each year.
"Stillbirth occurs 10 more times than SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and yet little attention and national funding is given to stillbirth," she said. "Many of these pregnancies are like mine -- completely healthy until the moment they aren't. And yet I have been told by countless medical professionals, 'Sometimes this just happens.'"
Welliver said these are senseless deaths of babies, but these babies aren't counted in infant mortality rates because they never took a breath.
"We need to do better," she added. "More research is desperately needed to develop prevention strategies. The funds raised from Lydie's Loop will benefit Star Legacy Foundation to help stillbirth awareness, research, education, advocacy and family support."
Lindsey Wimmer, executive director of the Star Legacy Foundation, said theJohnston Welliver are an amazing family, putting their grief into action to honor their daughter.
"We are grateful for the immense effort they have put in to make Lydie's Loop a reality," Wimmer said. "The money raised from this event will help fund research that will ultimately prevent many families from enduring what the Wellivers experienced. I encourage people in the Columbus metropolitan area to attend and support this incredible event."
Johnston Welliversaid she has been overwhelmed by the support for Lydie's Loop.
"We will host a 5K run/walk, 1 mile walk, and kids' dash," she said. "Additionally, we'll have a face painter and a raffle."
Raffle prizes will include an American Girl doll, a children's play center, a signed Ohio State University hockey stick, front row Columbus Blue Jackets tickets, a memory box, artwork and gift cards.
"It's a great event to bring the community together to benefit a cause that desperately needs support,"Johnston Welliver said. "Families have the option to include a child's name on the T-shirts, and the event T-shirt will feature 39 names of stillborn babies."
"We hope for much success on Oct. 1 and to make this an annual event to not only honor our daughter Lydia but also the 25,999 other babies born still every single year."