ALPENA - On Saturday, families that lost a child will gather at the Alpena County Fairgrounds for a remembrance walk.
Local support group Remember Our Children will lead the walk, which starts at the fairgrounds at 10 a.m., group Facilitator Karen McCormick said. This is the seventh year for the walk, and the group holds it in conjunction with Compassionate Friends, an international organization with a similar aim of supporting parents who lost a child.
"They do a walk at a different time of the year, and we chose this time because of the weather, being nicer in Alpena to do it in the summer," she said.
The walk goes from the fairgrounds to a memorial tree along Washington Avenue near the Thunder Bay River, McCormick said. The support group will carry a banner and lead the walk to the tree, which has a bench underneath along with bricks with the names of deceased children engraved on them. Once there, the group will read from a list of names of deceased children, release some balloons and return to the fairgrounds.
Snacks and water are available at the end of the walk, McCormick said. It's set to happen rain or shine, and there's no charge to participate, so consider bringing an umbrella.
McCormick lost a daughter nearly 12 years ago, she said. Her daughter was 19 at the time and attending classes at Michigan State University when she died in an accident. McCormick and her husband sought help for their grief through a local hospice group, but after six weeks they were on their own. They formed Remember our Children about 10 years ago with other members of the group who also lost a child.
What: Remembering Our Children Walk
(for families that lost a child)
Where: Alpena County Fairgounds
When: Saturday, 10 a.m. Rain or shine
While Saturday's walk is meant to remember deceased children, don't expect a sad or somber event, McCormick said. Instead, the walk is a joyous one where families unite to honor and celebrate their loved ones.
"When we recite the names, we ring a bell for each one, each child's name is mentioned," she said. "When you lose a child you just want to hear their name."
McCormick also encouraged anyone who has lost a child to attend the group's monthly meetings. They meet the first Monday at Grace Church. Call McCormick at 358-2251 for more information.