KinderMourn’s Hope Floats Duck Race is more than “just another fundraiser.” Out of the 15,000 ducks that will splash into the Whitewater Center’ churning rapids, thousands will race in memory of a loved one. These yellow ducks remind grieving children, bereaved parents and all of us that hope does float.
For 34 years, KinderMourn has provided counseling services for parents who have experienced the death of a child and children grieving the death of a loved one. The mission has remained strong and the heart of KinderMourn still beats for one purpose…to provide a safe haven for those who have suffered an unimaginable loss.
The Hope Floats Duck Race raises 20% of our annual operating budget and is critical to ensuring that anyone in need can take advantage of our powerful program. As the only non-profit grief center in the area for bereaved parents and children, KinderMourn relies on the generosity of the community to carry out our bereavement services.
Adopt your ducks today at www.kindermourn.org or call Duck Central at 704.376.2580.
8th Annual Hope Floats Duck Race
Sunday, April 22
US Whitewater Center
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Race time approximately 3:30pm
The Day the World Stood Still
By Lara Beegle
Friday April 23, 2010 started out just like every other Friday. I woke up, went to my youngest son Jonathan’s bedroom and woke him up, gave him clothes to put on, and went to the kitchen to fix breakfast. He joined me for breakfast, brushed his teeth, and we went to sit by the front door to wait on the school bus. The bus made its usual turn on the road across the street from our house. Jonathan gave me big hugs and kisses as we talked about what a “stupendous” day he was going to have at school, then he made his usual walk down the driveway to wait for the bus to come back for him. The bus turned back onto our road and stopped across the street from our driveway. One car passed, and Jonathan started across the street to board the bus. As I stood at the door waiting for him to get safely on the bus, I heard the bus driver blow the horn twice, which was extremely unusual. I heard tires squealing, then a green van hit my son. I saw my boy go flying through the air and land behind the bus.
I started screaming, thinking that my mind was playing tricks on me, then started calling for my son, Joseph, who was 18 at the time. I ran out, in complete hysterics and shock, to where Jonathan was lying in the road. Joseph soon joined me, and started performing CPR on my 7 year old son, who was without pulse or breath. Joseph was very determined and focused, and instructed me to call 911. Jonathan began to breathe again, but was still struggling for each breath. It was like the whole world had stopped spinning, and my world was in complete chaos! My daughter Ashley, then 17, had awakened to my screaming, and was also outside by the time the ambulance arrived. They took Jonathan to CMC-Union, and he was then air-lifted to Levine Children’s Hospital.
Joseph, Ashley, Marty (my husband) and I went directly to Charlotte. We arrived at Levine Children’s Hospital, and were met by an employee of the hospital. We were taken upstairs to a waiting room where friends and family quickly started gathering. Not long after getting there, they took us into a private family waiting room, and within a few minutes a team of doctors came in and explained to me that Jonathan’s spine was severed at the neck. Even though there was some brain function now, they did not expect it to last. They allowed me to go in to see Jonathan. Many family members and friends took turns visiting with Jonathan and me.
He was officially declared brain dead around 7pm on Friday, and soon after I was approached by some men from a company called LifeShare Carolinas. They talked to me about the possibility of donating Jonathan’s organs. Jonathan was a very loving and giving little boy, so there was really no question as to what to do. We started the process for organ donation, and Saturday, April 24th at 10pm, my baby boy was taken back to the operating room where his organs were removed to help save other’s lives. I stayed with Jonathan until I had no choice but to leave.
During our two day stay at Levine Children’s Hospital I was treated amazingly well and given an abundance of information; paperwork, books, etc. One of the best pieces of information I received, although I didn’t realize it at the time, was a pamphlet about Kindermourn. It took me a few weeks to convince myself that I needed some outside help to begin to get through what was definitely the absolute worst thing that had ever happened in my life. Contacting them has made a huge difference in my (and my family’s) life!
I finally called Kindermourn and made the initial appointments for myself and my two surviving children. They were able to accommodate us readily, and get all of us appointments at the same time for convenience. Ashley and I then started individual counseling, and Joseph decided that he didn’t want counseling at that time. The individual appointments were, and continue to be, very helpful. There has never been a point when I felt uncomfortable being there, and I was always allowed to do things at my own pace.
In the fall there was a teen group that started meeting, and on the same night I attended a support group for caregivers. With Ashley and I going to groups on the same night, doors opened for conversation and some good Mother/Daughter quality time on the rides to and from Kindermourn. I also attended a grieving parents group on another night. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like a breath of fresh air to not feel so alone in the world. After the very public death of Jonathan, I felt like nobody could possibly understand my pain. Being able to talk to other people who had lost a child, thought many of the same thoughts, and felt many of the same emotions I was feeling was extremely helpful and made me feel less alone in the world. It is much like a club, not one that any of us would choose to join, but one that becomes much like a very necessary family after having no choice but to join.
Since I work in the hospitality business, it’s impossible to avoid talking to people. Many people feel uncomfortable talking to me about Jonathan, or feel uncomfortable when I talk about Jonathan, but Kindermourn has helped me understand that better, and has given me tools to deal with these types of situations. Being involved in the individual counseling, grief groups, extra activities that Kindermourn offers, and the Kindermourn Duck Race has, and will continue to help, not only my grief process, but my quality of life as well. Without the resources that Kindermourn offers, I don’t think I would understand what I am going through, or be able to make it through.
The cornerstone of KinderMourn: Grieving Parents Program
When consumed by grief, it can be impossible for bereaved moms and dads to see how life can go on. KinderMourn helps parents move beyond the shock of death, cope with the day to day struggles of grief, and fine hope after the worst happens.
At KinderMourn, healing comes in the form of support groups, individual and family counseling. We offer these services to all parents, regardless of the age of the child or cause of death.
KinderMourn’s supportive environment allows parents to express their pain, find acceptance, understanding and develop ways to cope with what can feel overwhelming.
At KinderMourn, parents find comfort and empathy .. and, ultimately hope.
“KinderMourn provides a way to honor memories while rediscovering life, hope and courage.”
I am so sorry for your family’s loss. Thank you for the courage to share your tragic story with us, so that others may be helped by Kindermourn’s efforts.
Lara, you are a pillar of amazing strength. Thank you for sharing your story to help raise awareness for Kindermourn, a place where each and every one of us hopes and prays that we never have to use. For those of you not familiar, Kindermourn’s Duck Race is a day of joy and happiness and is one of the best family outings this area has to offer. Our family has been every year, in honor of our beloved Jen B and her family – what is so special to me is that it’s as if an angel shines down from above. The weather has always been amazing, Carolina blue skies and the perfect temperature – a sea of angels always shining down and represented in each fun yellow duck:-)
God bless Lara and her family. xoxo, Jen
I am so sorry for your loss. Johnathan’s memory will never be forgotten. Kindermourn was a tremendous support for our family after the loss of our baby girl, I am forever grateful to them. I hope everyone gives support to this wonderful organization.