BY AMY FUHRMAN
The hardest words I have ever spoken were telling my two children that their Uncle D had died by suicide.
Their anguish in the minutes, hours, days and weeks that followed is something I will never forget. Devastated by my own grief, I struggled to even find the right words to explain his death and the funeral that soon followed – as well as answers to their many difficult questions.
Less than 24 hours after we received the devastating news, our family gathered in a small conference room at the boys’ school to meet with a counselor from Rainbow Kidz. I’d never heard of the program, and didn’t realize at that moment that Rainbow Kidz would become a lifeline for our youngest son and our family.
On that first day, Rainbow Kidz Director Leigh Ann Darty sat with us in our grief, and gently guided us in understanding what the process of mourning and grieving might look like. She brought resources, copious amounts of tissues and a sense that we were no longer alone in navigating this tragedy.
The next year brought many challenges for our son as he struggled with his uncle’s death, and even questioned whether he wanted to live in a world without him. Rainbow Kidz was there for him, in school groups, individual sessions and two summers of a week at grief camp. And Ms. Darty still meets with him on occasion more than six years later, when issues have arisen.
When people ask me why I support Rainbow Kidz – in fact, why I now work to raise funds for the program – I reply very simply: ‘Rainbow Kidz helped save my son’s life.”
On Saturday, May 22, the 11th Annual Rainbow Kidz Ride & Run will be held at Western Avenue Baptist Church. This event, created by Rainbow Kid Timmy Belcher before he passed away in 2011, is the largest fundraiser held in support of the Rainbow Kidz program.
Rainbow Kidz continues to serve Timmy’s siblings a decade after his death. Just like the program serves hundreds of children across Iredell County each year who have lost a loved one – including dozens this year to COVID-19. It is inspiring to think of this legacy of giving back that continues in Timmy’s memory today.
Rainbow Kidz was there for our family when we needed help the most – and all of the services were provided at no charge, thanks to the generous support of this community.
If you’d like to support Rainbow Kidz and participate in the Ride & Run on Saturday, May 22 – yes, you can also walk! – please visit https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Statesville/TimmyBelcherMemorialRainbowKidzRideRun
Amy Fuhrman is mother of two Rainbow Kidz, and Director of Development for Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County. Email her at email@example.com.