By Guest Blogger Annie Vorys, Heartstrings Director of Advancement

For the past ten years, hundreds of Triad families have gathered at Triad Park on the second Saturday morning in October. They come out early in the morning, wearing handmade t-shirts, bringing friends and family along for a chance like no other—a chance to celebrate the babies they hold only in their hearts.

Heartstrings Walk for Remembrance & Hope is the organization’s most important outreach event, allowing so many Triad families to come together in a safe place to remember and honor the children that they have lost during pregnancy and infancy. This year, Heartstrings marks the 10th anniversary of this memorial event, and to mark this milestone, the Triad non-profit is excited to announce new highlights. To give a new face to the Walk, Heartstrings hosted a logo design competition. Local artist BJ Privette donated his time and talent to the cause and won. He credits his two-year-old son as his inspiration for supporting Heartstrings in this way. “I can’t imagine a life without my son and he was my inspiration for helping. I don’t think you have to be directly affected to understand the impact [child loss] can have.”

Also new this year is Heartstrings “Whole Family Portraits”. This is a chance for families to represent their lost children in a tangible way, by holding up photos, mementos, or simply the children’s names in a family portrait. Too often, our babies are unrepresented in family portraits. This is our chance to change that! Families are encouraged to bring mementos — photos, ultrasounds, stuffed animals — and hold them tight while professional photographers take their portrait. Those without memory items will be given chalkboards to write their baby’s name and hold with them in the picture. Photos will be emailed directly to families at no charge.

As an appreciative nod to the beginnings of Heartstrings, founder Tracey Holyfield of Greensboro has been invited as keynote speaker. Beginning with the short lives of her twin boys, Tracey worked to build what is now an amazing community of support for grieving parents, serving hundreds of families every year.

Of course, the Walk is also a very important fundraising event for Heartstrings, allowing the continuation of their support groups and other programs provided to Triad families. The organization is especially grateful to FPC of Greensboro, the presenting sponsor for this event. However, anyone can participate in this fundraising drive. This year, as a way to encourage giving in a fun and exciting way, Heartstrings online Walk registration allows participants to form their own memorial fundraising teams. The three highest-donating teams will each be given a personalized garden stepping stone. Any team raising at least $50 will be recognized on Heartstrings website.

When one in four families are left with nothing but empty arms, the impact across the Triad is widespread. Heartstrings is working to give hope back to the families affected by this loss. And at the Walk for Remembrance & Hope, Heartstrings does just that—allows families to open up about their losses and find a community of support that can carry them through their grief journey.

Sign up today—to walk for yourself, your friends, your neighbors. Sign up today to show love and support to those who need it most.

Heartstrings’ 10th Annual Walk for Remembrance & Hope will take place at Triad Park, Shelter #1, on October 11, 2014. Check in will be held from 9-10am.

Sponsored by Heartstrings