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Noahs Quest supports families who have lost a child

June 29 Fundraiser in Sandy supports families as well as Brief Encounters


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Sitting on a bench in Sandy Bluff Park is the Cohen family, from left, Shira, Carol, Sidra and Cary. They are donating a bench to the park, with a small plaque in memory of Noah Cohen who was stillborn nearly eight years ago.There’s a lot that’s new in the eighth annual Noah’s Quest event, and there’s a lot that’s continuing, said event organizer Carol Cohen.

The event begins with registration at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 29, at Sandy Bluff Park, 36801 Goldenrain St. More information at noahsquest.org.

Admitting that the activity is emotional for all participants, Cohen said she and her husband, Cary Mallon, organize it for everyone who has lost a child (before or after birth) or lost the hope of a child as well as for those who care.

Cohen knows the pain of grief firsthand, since Noah’s Quest was first organized in memory of their baby, Noah, who died for no apparent reason in the womb just before his C-section birth was scheduled in 2005.

The couple have been organizing this activity each year to support the work of Brief Encounters, a Portland-based nonprofit group that offers information and support to people who have lost a child.

Brief Encounters is where Cohen and Mallon received their support after losing Noah.

Continuing activities in the event are the 5-kilometer walk, 5-K run, 10-K run and one-K kiddie run.

There is very little competition because runners and walkers do not come with a competitive attitude.

“This is more about people coming together,” Cohen said, “remembering their loss and supporting others.”

Also included among the activities is a candle-lighting ceremony, moment of silence, release of doves and a speech by Pat Schwiebert, co-founder of the grief support group Brief Encounters, which sponsors Noah’s Quest.

Schwiebert has been working in the area of bereavement for 30 years as a nurse, educator, counselor and author.

The release of doves and moment of silence is meaningful, Cohen said, because it sets the atmosphere for the event and gives people a chance to remember their loss or support their friend’s loss.

The event is a fundraiser, but the most important value in participation is the support given to everyone.

“The one thing I have learned over the (eight) years of running the event,” Mallon said, “is that no matter how much money we raise or who we give it to, we’re not going to eliminate the problem of stillbirth.”

Instead, their goal is to provide a venue where they can help minister to others in grief from the loss of a child.

The money raised is donated to Brief Encounters, helping the group to accomplish its goals.

About 200 members of Brief Encounters come from all around the metro area to reconnect with those who have supported them and participate in Noah’s Quest.

It is important to continue to remember babies lost, Cohen said, because they are a part of each family. For she and her husband, it also is important for them to remind their two girls that they had a brother they never met.

All the family has is a photo of Noah wrapped in a blanket after being removed from the womb. The family treasures that photograph.

Brief Encounters is helping to create a $6,000 walkway from bricks that will have names engraved in memory of lost children. The walk, which passes by the kids’ play area at Sandy Bluff Park, will complete a path that bisects the park and connects to the perimeter walkway.

Noah’s Quest seems to be needed every year, Cohen said, even though some families get though their grief each year.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “we get new people at Noah’s Quest every year because there are new losses. But we have a group of people who keep coming back, even though their loss was several years ago.”

Register by June 28 for a reduced rate on fees. Pick up a brochure with information and registration form at the Sandy Community Center, 38348 Pioneer Blvd.

For more information, call Cohen at 503-475-2347 or visit noahsquest.org.