Turning Grief Into a Gift for Others
Family organizes "Milk Run" to support breastfeeding moms
ANCHORAGE - While preparing her classroom for the first day of school at Susitna Elementary in August 2010, Jennifer Harmon got a call from her son's daycare.
"And she just said… there's been an emergency and Owen's not breathing, which hospital do you want him to go to,” said Harmon.
Her otherwise healthy 13-month-old son had a febrile seizure and his brain stopped working.
“They took him for another CT scan and that's when they saw his brain was just swelling so quickly and there was really nothing to do,” said Harmon, sitting on her sofa with husband, Arthur Harmon, in their East Anchorage home.
"They had already brought in a big bed for us [at Providence Hospital]… so we were able to get into the bed with him and we just got on both sides of him and they unhooked him from the machines and we just sang him his last lullaby,” she said.
The couple decided to use the tragedy to help others.
The Harmons created a breastfeeding support foundation called Owen’s Milk Money, benefiting lactation services at Providence Alaska Medical Center.
Staff at the clinic say more than 24 lower-income women and families are helped every month through money raised.
"We just had a patient today who is new to the country doesn't speak a lot of English and her baby wasn't gaining weight well,” said Jennifer Aist, manager of Maternity Outpatient Clinics and Services at Providence.
“So with Owen's Milk Money we were able to have her walk out the door with a pump… and a pump is otherwise 300 dollars,” said Aist.
The foundation also supports Alaskan teen moms.
"So if someone comes in and they really need a new bra or they need supplies for pumping and breast feeding, it's a chance for us, with products that otherwise they wouldn't be able to afford, for us to say ‘yeah, we can do that for you, we can support you,'” said Aist.
This Sunday, the Harmons have organized what they hope to be an annual 5k fun run to benefit the foundation.
It's called The Milk Run.
"I've gone with a GPS and checked and double-checked and ran with friends,” said Arthur Harmon about his role in setting up the event.
“I hope that everybody has a great time and this is a thing that can happen every year and grow and grow,” said Arthur Harmon.
Mom Jennifer agrees.
"I can still have a vision and a goal for my child's life, even if it's different than what we first expected.”
To register for the Milk Run, click here.