Annual Rock and Walk to honor babies gone too soon

Despite not being like previous events, the Rock and Walk will be held on Sept. 12 to honor the death of an infant or new-born baby. (Courtesy of Samantha Taray.)

The North Dakota Chapter of the TEARS Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to compassionately lift the financial burden from families who have lost a baby, will be holding its third annual Rock and Walk on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Stark County Veterans Pavilion in Dickinson at 11 a.m. Samantha Taray, a co-leader of the North Dakota chapter, said this year will be a little different due to the current pandemic, but will feature some of the previous traits from the two previous years.

"Usually we’ll have like a jumping castle and food and all that, we go all out, But this year we’re just going to keep it smaller," Taray said. "Everybody who signs up and registers gets a butterfly with their child’s name on it. And we put in on the path so when we walk the path it will symbolize their lost baby and see all the babies together."

Taray's daughter, Olive Jean Taray, died on March 25, 2015 shortly after birth. She said these events are essential to the families that are trying to heal, and to show those that may have been forced into the same situation, they are not alone. Despite the COVID pandemic, Taray said there was no way the event was going to be canceled.

"We reached out to the public to see if they still wanted to do the event in person, or do a virtual walk, Either way we would have done it," she said. "This is our big memorial event, we get to honor all the babies and their families. We’re very fortunate that we so far can still do it in person, it’s really exciting .... Unfortunately, there’s always new people throughout the year that join us that have felt that loss and don’t know of the support and we want to bring awareness to that."

Since the Rock and Walk in Dickinson started in 2017, families are able to come together, customized their own T-shirts and decorate their very own crafted butterflies, with the name of their fallen child. In 2019, families were able to


"They’re amazing ... last year, we did little sand erns or little sand viles that everybody put a colored sand in the bucket and that symoblized their own baby and then we put all the sand together and that symbolized all of our babies united and that we’re not alone in our loss," Taray said. "Everybody then got to take a little vile home."

However, as with all events in 2020, this year will be a little different.

"We are planning on doing a little symbolization this year, but we’re going to have it already ready and completed instead of everybody doing it," Taray said. "This is kind of a bummer, this is our big event. But we’re just going to try and keep it shorter so at least the parents can remember their baby and honor their baby."

The North Dakota Chapter of the TEARS Foundation, hopes all of those that may been affected by this tragedy, or know of others that may have been in this situation, to come participate on Sept. 12.

Registration is $10 for adults, free for children. To register, go to the North Dakota Chapter of the TEARS foundation on Facebook, and click on the link for the Dickinson Rock and Walk. Taray said families can also register on-site on Sept. 12.

Families came together in 2019 by putting their own colored sands into a bowl, honoring the children and their families. (Courtesy of Samantha Taray.)

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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