Rain met the eighth annual John’s Baby Steps 5k race and memory walk Saturday morning at Kinnick-Feller Park in Adel, where about 15 people gathered to honor the memories of area infants and young children who have died.
The day “started as a soggy morning but cleared up just in time for the event,” said Jessica Don Gomke, who organized the John D. Gomke Charity event in 2010 with her husband, Steve Gomke, after the death of their 33-day-old son, John Donald Gomke.
This year’s event drew 126 registered runners, with 38 of them chip timed for the 5k race, “but I think the rain kept some people at home,” Jessica Gomke said.
Proceedings began at 8:30 a.m. with the Angel Baby Star presentations, in which the parents, siblings and other family members of each of the children honored by this year’s event received a rose and a certificate showing which star in the endless sky was named for each lost Angel Baby.
The 2017 Honorary Angels were Gavin Lee Sievers and Charleston Diane Faye Morlan.
Following the presentation of the Angel Baby Stars, the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung, and numerous blue, pink and green balloons were released for the Angel Babies to play with in the endless sky.
Other Angel Babies continually remembered by the charity include John Donald Gomke, Avery Corbett, Logan Dale Hiatt, Parker James Miller, William Martens, Paul Arthor Hildman, Alyssa Lorraine Kuonen, Peyton Rae Wright, Jaxton Daniel Plathe, Sam Alekos Kazos, Jaiden John Drake, Zach Michael Van Pelt, Gavin Lee Sievers, Mason Cass Nemmers and Blake Monroe Frettim.
The 1-mile and 5-kilomteter walk and run began in drizzles around 9 a.m., followed by a Kids Fun Run about 10 a.m. Redfield Volunteer Fire Department First Captain Wes Bosier and Training Officer Jon Jennings stood by to show interested visitors some of the department’s emergency medical gear.
Donations raised by the non-profit John D. Gomke Charity Inc. have been put toward a number of worthy purposes, including providing 28 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to 12 area school districts and also maintaining them.
Donations have also supported First Aid and CPR training for more than 100 people.
More than 150 families suffering through a loss have received keepsakes through the John D. Gomke Charity Inc., including handprint and footprint molds and ink prints, and every Angel Baby names a star.
The charity also sponsors a golf tournament every June. For more information about the John D. Gomke Charity or to make a donation, visit the group’s website.