IWU Nursing Spring 2014: Volume 7 Issue 1 - Page 8

a walk to remember written by Kelsey Mitchener Little Finley Ellison was named for one of his dad’s favorite football coaches. He loved bath time and hated his stroller. When he passed away last year, he was just over 100 days old. That weekend, Samantha Eddington, a nursing education graduate student at IWU’s Lexington branch, was running a 5K race with her best friend, Stacie Wilson, an ultrasound supervisor at an OB/GYN office. The two are friends and neighbors to Finley’s parents, Crissy and Dwayne. “Finley had died only a few days before and we were all just grieving so much for their family,” Eddington remembered. “We are all runners/joggers. Stacie and I thought it would be nice to organize a 5K and name it after Finley. We had never done anything like this before but we knew we wanted to do something to honor his life and to give the Ellison family something positive to look forward to. When Stacie came up with the idea, it seemed a perfect fit.” That idea on a Saturday in May turned into the first annual Finley 5K Run/Walk for SIDS Awareness. SIDS—Sudden Infant Death Syndrome—is the leading cause of death in babies, like Finley, under one year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about seventy children die unexpectedly of sleep-related causes every week; some figures say up to 4,500 annually. “We are trying to turn this tragedy into something the Ellisons can focus on, and be excited about, in honor of their son Finley,” the two friends explained. So they jumped in. “Stacie and I basically organized the entire Finley 5K,” Eddington admitted. “I’m not gonna lie; it was a rough four months! It was a long process. We had to go before city council, check with police departments, get advice about timing, get sponsors, prizes...” But Eddington said it was worth the effort. “It turned out to be such a huge success. We expected about 100 people and would have been happy with that,” she said, explaining that in her small town of Georgetown, Kentucky, races typically cap out at 80-100 participants. But registration more than Scan for more photos. Scan for Facebook. doubled in size in just three days and over 1,300 people came out for the race on September 7, 2013, including 920 racers. “We have no idea what happened,” she marveled. “It went insane! I was honestly part of something larger than myself. So few times do you ever get to be part of something like that.” “The Finley 5K race was the highlight of my year, seeing our vision come to life that day just the way we planned,” Wilson agreed. “What a celebration of life it was.” It was also the start of an ongoing, larger movement in the community to support SIDS research and awareness. Efforts have ranged from bake sales and lemonade stands to fishing tournaments and football helmet decals, with the Facebook page originally created for the 5K serving as the efforts’ active hub. The Ellisons are also in the process of establishing Finley’s Foundation, which would increase the visibility and reach of these initiatives. “The race has become a healing force for us and we can’t thank Stacie and Samantha enough for this conduit of our grief,” said Dwayne. “This event and the events for the future give us something to look forward to and focus on instead of the negative. We can feel like