Hundreds take part in inaugural Macey Whittaker SIDS Awareness Walk/Run – Bluefield Daily Telegraph


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

 —  More bitter than sweet, the parents of Macey Whittaker leaned on the strength of their friends, faith and personal goal to help others to make the inaugural Macey Whittaker SIDS Awareness 5k Walk/Run a success.

“This is an amazing turnout. It’s a blessing really,” Garret Whittaker said as he walked among hundreds of friends and supporters of the SIDS awareness effort. “It’s just more bitter than sweet for us.”

Garret and Emilie Whittaker lost their baby, Macey to SIDS — Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — in August, 2010, just a few months after she was born on May 19, 2010. The moment remains a painful memory, but Laura Anderson of the Human Resources Department at Princeton Community Hospital convinced Garret and Emilie that the SIDS awareness walk could help save another baby.

“Laura Anderson is the first and best person to ask us to have this event in Macey’s memory,” Emilie Whittaker said. “This is something that can happen to anyone at any time.”

In 2010, 2,063 infants were lost due to SIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants less than one year of age “that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history,” according to the CDC. SIDS is the overall third leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S.

“We provide each new mother with a bag of supplies to take home after they give birth to their baby,” Laura Anderson said. “The hospital volunteers include caps and other items in the bags we give away.

“When the newborns are in the hospital, we wrap them in a sleep sack, but that isn’t something that goes home with them,” Anderson said. She and others started looking into the cost of providing each new mother with a sleep sack to include among the items PCH gives new mothers. The Mayo Clinic includes the use of a sleep sack as one of the ways to help prevent SIDS, along with making sure the baby sleeps on his or her back.

“Rick Hypes developed a logo for our sleep sacks that includes Macey Whittaker’s foot prints,” Anderson said. “If we can save just one life by providing a sleep sack or increasing awareness about SIDS, we will have reached our goal.”

More than 250 individuals pre-registered for the event at $25 each, with perhaps an additional 100 or more registering on Saturday morning. The PCH Volunteers — Margaret Comer, president —  as well as volunteers from the Bluefield State College Nursing Program came out to assist with registration and raceway logistics.

Dan Thyng, youth pastor at Johnston Chapel Church offered a word of prayer and at 8:30 a.m., with near freezing temperatures and a partly sunny sky, the racers and walkers took off on their 5k journey with Macey’s logo on their shirts and the Whittaker family in their hearts.

— Contact Bill Archer at


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