When Megan Bozell looks at her 18-month-old son, Trent, she often sees someone else, too.
That would be Reid, her 5-month-old first-born son who died of sudden infant death syndrome two-and-a-half years ago.
“Trent is the spitting image of Reid,” said Bozell, 26. “And when I see Trent, it motivates me to do something about SIDS.”
She will do exactly that April 12 — what would have been Reid’s third birthday — with the inaugural Reid’s Race fundraiser at Columbus’ Ceraland Park. Proceeds from an 800-meter children’s fun run, plus a 5K walk and run and silent auction will go to fund research through the New Jersey-based CJ Foundation for SIDS.
“Recently, I’ve opened my eyes more to the lack of public awareness about SIDS,” she said. “Before, I was pretty oblivious about it. Or I figured it never would happen to me.”
Leaders of the CJ Foundation told her that Indiana has fewer support groups and related help for families in the aftermath of SIDS than most other states.
Bozell, who in October launched a Christian-based infant loss support group, Angels of Hope, wants to make sure that statistic changes.
“Sometimes, you just have to face an issue head-on,” she said.
That’s one reason why the upcoming event, with a soft goal of maybe $5,000, will be on Reid’s birthday.
Granted, she acknowledged that she and husband Kevin probably will experience deep emotion that day. But Bozell wants to channel such feelings for the sake of others, if at all possible.
“I don’t know very many people who can turn such a tragedy ... into something so positive for others,” said longtime friend Nicole Sichting, who is helping with the event.
Bozell speaks with a mix of disarming vulnerability and fierce intensity.
One minute she shares a heart-wrenching story of contemplating suicide after her son died.
The next, she is so determined to save other families from such silent suffering by raising money and awareness.
“That is just Megan,” said childhood friend Rachel Fohne, also helping with Reid’s Race.
“She’s an extremely strong person. She’s very resilient. And she’s unafraid of putting her feelings out there.”
Bozell hardly recognizes herself in such statements.
“Every day is still such a struggle,” she said. “I would love to say that I have a handle on this. But it is a daily battle. And I realize I have a lot of support. So, when I think of someone else going through something like this and not having all that support and resources, I just can’t imagine how they would live.”
Bozell remains starkly realistic about her family’s future.
“We may never literally get over it,” she said, reminding that Reid always will be a part of them. “But we will be able to do something positive — and we want a positive memory about Reid for Trent. Also, it’s never too early to promote showing goodness to others.”
As the Bozells work toward the event, Reid, a baby they remember as smiling and giggly, still seems to be everywhere. In rainbows. Hot-air balloons.
Already, more than 100 people on social media have expressed support for the event.
“I have no doubt that, on the day of the event, Reid will be there (in spirit),” she said. “It’s remarkable to see how many lives a little 5-month-old boy really touched.”