Doug Nitsch
Doug Nitsch

I lost my daughter Riley in February of 2004 due to a blood clot in the umbilical cord as well as entangling. A few weeks after that I decided to run in a marathon to symbolize the struggle she encountered in the last hours of her life as well as to honor the memory of the 36 weeks she was here. As word of my quest started to spread, people began asking about sponsoring me with donations. Something that had started out as a private thing between Riley and I had turned into so much more. It became a way for me to deal with my grief as well as collect donations for Share to give back for all they have done for us. They have been an integral part of our healing process. In the moments following Riley’s death, we felt so alone. However, in the months following her death, Share was able to give us a close group of people that were going through the same situations, the same emotions, and that became so important to us.

Not only have they been helping bereaved parents for 25 years but they are also one of the major contributors to the research and legislation being done to help find the cause of stillbirths. It’s unacceptable to live with "it just happened" as the reason for Riley not being here with us. I wanted to help Share raise money and awareness for this cause through my marathon. Who better to reap the benefits of my labor of love? As the race grew closer, the support became even more widespread. All of the students and staff at the middle school where my wife and I work began to do whatever they could to show their support. Money was raised through the sale of bright pink T-shirts that read "Doug’s Run for Riley" and pink bows for students and staff to wear. Suddenly the donations were approaching the $2,000 mark . . . an amount I could have never imagined. I also found comfort in that each time a shirt or bow was worn, someone was thinking about Riley, and Share, and awareness was being spread throughout the community.

On Sunday, Sept. 19th, 2004 I ran in the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St. Charles Missouri. It took me four and a half hours to complete the 26.2 mile run but they were strides much needed in my efforts to heal. Riley may never get to run but I ran every step for her that day. The bright pink T-shirts raised more awareness when people and runners all along the marathon route kept asking "Who’s Riley?" I told them proudly. I will never forget how I felt seeing my family, friends and Share staff all along the marathon route and in the Family Arena as I crossed the finished line. My seemingly irreparable heart, after all the training and the marathon itself, is 400 miles closer to being healed. I will never forget Riley and I will never forget the selfless love the staff at Share has shown my family in this past year. From the brick-laying ceremony at the Angel of Hope in May, to the golf tournament, to the Walk to Remember, to the candlelight vigil at the Angel of Hope in December, to the personal phone calls and notes...the staff has always wanted to make sure that our children are honored and remembered in a dignified way and that it is on-going. That they never be forgotten.

Before this happened, I had never heard of Share. I guarantee to you that there are now hundreds more that have. I wanted to be an ambassador to keep that awareness going of my daughter, and Share, so that neither will ever be forgotten.

Yours in healing,
Doug Nitsch