Since 2006, the Angel Babies Walk/Run has been coordinated by local nonprofit organization, Hinds Hospice – an organization that provides professional grief support for the loss of loved ones. Dr. Jenelle Gilbert, professor in the Department of Kinesiology, has been involved with the Angel Babies Walk/Run since it first began and for her, the experience is a personal one.
“My daughter, Jazmyn Breeze Gilbert, was born into eternal life on December 11, 2002,” Gilbert said.
At the time, the staff at Hinds Hospice helped Gilbert and husband, Dr. Wade Gilbert (also a professor in the Department of Kinesiology) tremendously, by providing counseling and support during their time of grief.
“We first started meeting with them when I was still pregnant, but after we learned that our daughter had severe heart defects and probably would not make it,” said Gilbert. “They made many suggestions about things we could do to spend time with her and create memories. I went to several group counseling sessions with other parents who had lost their children, and they continued to provide resources and share ideas about keeping her memory alive.”
The next Angel Babies Walk/Run will be Saturday, April 21 beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Woodward Park. The event is going into its 14th year and benefits the Angel Babies program at Hinds Hospice, which provides comfort and support to families whose babies have a life limiting condition or whose babies have died. The yearly fundraiser supports no-cost services to families who have lost a child through miscarriage, at birth, or in the first year of life.
The Department of Kinesiology, a contributing donor of the event, will enlist students, staff and faculty to volunteer for the event. Seven students from the Kinesiology Pedagogy Club will assist in the Kids Zone, facilitating fun activities and games like tic tac toe, bean bag toss, golf putting and parachute. Staff member, Cecilia Garcia, who manages the Kinesiology equipment room, helped to coordinate the activities with Gilbert. In addition, students will also help with face painting, arts and crafts and a cake walk.
Gilbert said it is important for students to engage in community service and volunteering.
“Civic engagement and service learning are very important to Fresno State’s mission,” said Gilbert. “Getting into the community and serving others is a great way to make connections and grow. We learn a lot about ourselves when our emphasis is on someone else.”
Nancy Hinds, a 2008 CHHS Community Hero, founded Hinds Hospice more than 25 years ago with hospice care, to help individuals and families dealing with end-of-life issues and loss and grief. Along with Hinds, Gilbert has spoken out about the Angel Babies program at panels, guest lectures, and at gatherings with physicians.
“The Angel Babies program and its compassionate staff provided resources, listened and understood when no one else did, and continue to be a source of strength for me almost 16 years later,” Gilbert said. “I can’t say enough good things about them and while it makes me sad to see so many families at the Walk/Run event, I also feel connection and gratitude that they are supported, rather than suffering in silence.”
The public is invited to get involved in the fundraising efforts by purchasing raffle tickets ($1 each or 25 tickets for $20) through Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559.278.8902.
To register for the Walk/Run, please visit the event website.
– Written by Rebeca Flores, CHHS communications student assistant