GAINESVILLE - Families, community members and medical center employees gathered at Longwood Park tonight to honor families of pregnancy and early infant loss as part of pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.
The 4th annual Candlelight Remembrance was hosted by Rock Goodbye Angel, a local nonprofit organization and peer support group. The event was open to all and honors babies that were lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, perinatal loss, neonatal loss or SIDS.
"It's such a special and extremely emotional part of your life when you lose a baby," said Angela Ewers, founder and director of Rock Goodbye Angel.
Event staff gave out candles and permanent markers to write the name of the child on the candle. After a prayer and the summary of the proclamation by Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Families then placed their candles on a raft and shared the child's name and birthday. After all the candles were placed on the heart-shaped raft, the raft was deployed into the lake as the sun set.
"The biggest fear of a parent who has lost a child is that their child will be forgotten," said Rhythm Grace Heisman. "Events like this give us an opportunity to not only remember those children but to celebrate them and the reason why they were here, no matter how short their lives were."
Ronald Reagan established October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in 1988. October 15 is recognized internationally as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.
"We don't ever want to downplay breast cancer at all," said Ewers. "We feel that these women and men are survivors as well. They have survived a horrible tragedy"