Butterfly Run Walk + Flutter goes virtual Oct. 25

I have had the honor of working with families coping with illness and loss for over 25 years and while every story is sad, not only is Mimi's experience particularly heartbreaking, it is really her resiliency and dedication to their memory and to improving the care given to dying children that is heroic.

While the death of a child is unimaginable, it is a reality for nearly 2,500 families each year just in Illinois. But sometimes numbers don't tell the whole story. I would like you to tell you Mimi's story.

The mission of GIPPCC/Greater Illinois Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition to optimize the quality of life for all children living with life-limiting conditions. When the unimaginable does happen, we work together to ensure that the children's hospitals and community organizations have the support they need to care for families at one of the most challenging moments of their lives.

"Choose Happiness" is our motto in memory of a remarkable child named, Keegan. One day during yet another brutal treatment for his cancer, a nurse asked Keegan why he was always smiling. His simple response was "I choose happiness." Unfortunately, Keegan died when he was 8 years old. But that is not the end of the story. More remarkable is that his mother, Mimi Noonan, Deerfield, our board president, continues to "choose happiness" in spite of the tragedy of not only Keegan's death but the death of her daughter, Tierney, from Trisomy 18.

Tierney was diagnosed shortly after her birth and while only given months to live, with the support of a fabulous pediatric palliative care, Tierney celebrated her birthday every month until she died peacefully at home, in her favorite rocking chair, surrounded by her brothers and her stuffed animals just shy of her third birthday. Keegan relapsed and died less than 6 months after Tierney. Mimi continues to be a warrior for children's healthcare & chooses happiness everyday. It is through her commitment that GIPPCC continues to grow in outreach and in impact in our mission to support families as they navigate life-limiting illness and the journey after their child's death.

Our annual event, the Butterfly Run Walk + Flutter goes virtual this year on Sunday, Oct. 25!

Now more than ever, we need to come together to support our most vulnerable children. Families caring for seriously ill children find themselves more isolated than ever and need to know they are not alone. The Butterfly Run celebrates hope, healing, and the shared community that GIPPCC and Missing Pieces provides for loved ones and families impacted by childhood illness or a child's death. Now more than ever, there is a need to understand the complex, challenging experience with grief and build awareness of the resources available in the Chicago area.

We are excited to partner with Lurie Children's, Advocate Children's Hospital, Comer Children's Hospital, Journeycare and Joliet Hospice in bringing families, together, if only virtually, for a day of support, hope and remembrance.

I hope you will consider helping me honor Mimi and the memories of Keegan, Tierney and all the other children we carry in our hearts in promoting the Butterfly Run. And to Choose Happiness, Every day!

For information, visit, missingpiecesgrief.organd

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