Walk to Remember Carries Message of Love 2,000 Miles

INDIANAPOLIS – On Oct. 11, more than 1,000 adults and children, many holding balloons, gathered in Sarah T. Bolton Park in Beech Grove. They took this time to remember children, grandchildren and siblings lost to stillbirth, miscarriage and newborn loss. Between songs and prayers, they heard the names of their lost infants read.
For 29 years, the annual Walk to Remember has been a part of many central Indiana families’ way of honoring these special sons and daughters during Infant Loss Awareness Month. Balloons have been a symbol of loss and hope as families release them into the air at the end of the ceremony, many of them carrying the babies’ names and personal messages written on them.
With hundreds of other families on that chilly fall morning, LaDonna Stofer released a balloon with the name of Trinity, a granddaughter lost five years ago, written in black marker. The pink balloon rose above the trees and soon disappeared from sight.
The next day, Rob and Patti Oldford found a pink balloon among the rocks and tall grass in front of their house. The balloon had the Walk to Remember logo and Trinity’s name on it, along with a message of love from her grandmother. Touched and curious about the story behind this balloon, the Oldfords went online and found information about the Walk to Remember that took place 2,000 miles away from their island home in Bonavista Bay off the eastern Newfoundland coast.
Not only did the balloon travel this distance in about 24 hours, it landed only about 30 miles from another bay with an unlikely name: Trinity.
The couple sent photos of their home and the found balloon to Franciscan St. Francis Health and also posted them on their personal Facebook account.
“We are very intrigued by your story and what you do for all the families that have shared this type of loss,” Patti wrote in an e-mail to the hospital’s website. “I would like to release a balloon in honor of your organization, every year on the date of your walk, just to recognize these families.”
When Heather Stofer, Trinity’s mother, heard that their family’s balloon had been found, her emotions ranged from disbelief to awe. “I just got chills,” she said. “Usually, we tie all of our balloons together, but for some reason this year, my mom released hers separately.”
This was the fifth year Stofer and her family, including Trinity’s great grandparents and surviving twin sister, attended the Walk to Remember. “It’s a time for us to honor her and remember her, so that she’s not ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” she said.
“This is just an incredible thing,” said Joni Cutshaw,” bereavement coordinator. “We’ve heard of other balloons being found, but not one from this distance! We’re so touched by the Oldfords’ heart and desire for the launching family to know where their message landed.”