STEP BY STEP

Speed matters in finding a cure for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But not so much in Saturday’s Reid’s Race 5K run/walk and related events in which youngsters and adults alike will hustle along for the cause.

Less speedy men and women can make a difference, as Megan Bozell, the Columbus founder of the fundraiser, sees it. Even her 3-year-old son, Trent, will hoof it in the children’s 200-meter fun run in memory of his brother, Reid, who died of SIDS as a five-month-old on Sept. 19, 2011.

“He’s so excited to race for Bubby,” said Bozell, using the term of affection that Trent uses for his brother.

Bozell and her husband, Kevin, launched Reid’s Race in 2014 to raise money for the New Jersey-based CJ Foundation for SIDS. The inaugural event raised $17,000 among a crowd of more than 300 people, followed by $13,000 last year.

About $4,000 has already been raised this year with registration fees, raffle tickets and other means. Besides the race and walk/run, the schedule will include children’s games, face painting, bounce houses and a balloon release to remember those lost to SIDS or other causes.

The goal is to raise awareness and support research about SIDS so other families avoid such tragedies as the Bozells faced.

About 1,500 children died of SIDS in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“I think it’s still kind of considered a little taboo to talk about openly,” Megan Bozell said. “I know that still can sound crazy to some people. You feel sometimes like you are one in a million people — and that something is wrong with you because you couldn’t find a way to maybe save your child.

“So, you’re ashamed a little bit. I still carry some guilt today.”

The mom’s open and vulnerable manner in dealing with her family’s pain has spawned a local grief support group for those who have lost a child. And she has met moms who lost babies a decade ago — and yet never released much of their pain until they shared their feelings with her in recent months.

Even though the Bozells feel blessed also to have another son — Hudson, 1 — Megan Bozell acknowledged that her thoughts frequently turn to Reid and the fact that he would be starting kindergarten in the fall if he were alive.

“I often wonder, ‘What would Reid be like today? Would he be a combination of them (Trent and Hudson)?'” the mother said.

Bozell family friend Julie Armstrong is helping with the raffle and Saturday setup because her children — daughters Emma, 5, Natasha, 8, are running — and she and believes in building awareness for the cause.

“So many people still think that it can’t happen to them,” Armstrong said. “And you still don’t always hear a lot about SIDS.”

But the mother still hears plenty from her girls about the importance of remembering Reid.

“Megan has done an especially great job with that,” Armstrong said. “She still includes him in their Christmas cards and things like that.”

Part of the event logo on T-shirts and other items reads a sensitive line from the Bozells: “A piece of our heart is in heaven.”

But here still is plenty of down-to-earth work for the family and others to raise awareness for SIDS.

You can race to help -- or just donate

What: Reid’s Race 5K walk/run fundraiser with a children’s race, games, face painting, bounce houses and other activities.

When: Events begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

Where: Ceraland Park, 3989 S. County Road 525E in Columbus.

Cost: 5K runners and walkers $30; 200-meter and half-mile children’s fun runs, $10.

Raffle: Tickets are $1 or six for $5.

Registration: Reid’s Race page on Facebook.

Information: Megan Bozell at 812-343-7884.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.