Kellie Cunningham (32) was desperate to give something back to the Forth Valley Stillbirth and Neonatal Deaths (Sands) volunteers who were there in her time of need following the loss of her son, Henry, last May.
That determination to show her appreciation to the bereavement service led the Denny woman to come up with the idea of organising the 5k event in Falkirk’s Callendar Park last Sunday.
Kellie’s caring act has so far generated £21,000 in aid of Sands through donations, entry costs and raffle prizes, with that figure likely to increase further still.
Prior to the event, the nursery worker had revealed she would have struggled to cope with the loss of her baby boy to group B strep had it not been for the support of the Sands volunteers.
While there were difficult moments for those involved, Kellie admitted she was glad she and sister Debbie stuck with their decision to organise the fun run.
She said: “It was brilliant, a really good day and we had a great turnout — 260 took part.
“The oldest competitor we had was 70 and the youngest was three. There were even people from Aberdeen and Islay who took part.
“When I first thought about doing it I thought we’d get 100 maximum but because it was a nice day loads of people came to watch and support too.
“It was my little boy’s anniversary the week before so I thought I might find it difficult but everybody being there just made it so worthwhile.
“Just seeing how many people and families in our area have been affected was emotional.
“Once we gave out all of the balloons with the names of 43 stillborn and neonatal death babies on them it was quite emotional.
“The balloons represented each of our babies who didn’t survive.
“It was amazing standing alongside another 259 participants and knowing they were all there to support Sands in honour of my baby Henry or their own babies.”
Monthly Sands meet-ups at Forth Valley Spiritual Centre — along with information packs containing memory boxes and hand and footprint kits — have proved vital in helping Kellie come to terms with her son’s death.
Kellie added: “I would like to thank everyone for their support in organising the event. I couldn’t have done it without my sister, family and friends.
“On the day we couldn’t have done it without our volunteers who worked hard to make the event run smoothly.
“I am overwhelmed by the amount of participants and the money raised is more than I could have imagined.”
Anyone affected by bereavement is welcome to head along to one of Sands’ meetings at Forth Valley Spiritual Centre. These take place on the second Wednesday of each month, from 7.30-9.30pm.
The charity also provides phone and text support on 0845 834 0230 and 07748 656478 respectively.
Visit www.forthvalleysands.org.uk for more information.