CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Thursday was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and one Canfield mom knows the devastation of losing a child.
Sherri Horvat lost her daughter Gianna seven years ago at just 28 weeks. Now, she holds a candlelight memorial for all families going through the same tragedy.
The families joined Horvat on Thursday, holding lit candles and listening to music. They gathered at the Village Green in Canfield to remember all of the babies that weren’t able to take their first breath.
The memorial is called Gianna’s Light, and this year marked its seventh year. Horvat said she hopes the event can give families a little light during an otherwise dark time.
“I wanted to bring other families together that might be suffering in silence — give them a place to come, say their baby’s name, hear their baby’s name and just be together,” she said.
Horvat tried to explain the feeling of not having her baby with her on Thursday.
“We equate it to a bandage,” she said. “Um, you can put a bandage on something, but every now and then, it gets ripped back off and the wound’s open again.”
Horvat said she is trying to help all of the moms out there heal their wounds.
Tisha Collins first met Horvat when she was at the hospital — just moments after her baby passed away. She said Horvat has always been a kind and giving individual, despite her own personal struggles.
“She’s such a pleasant, wonderful person, and even through all she’s been through, she’s so strong and supports us all. And she’s always there for us,” she said.
And Collins is not the only one she has helped.
Ashley Clute gave birth to a stillborn in 2010. She said Gianna’s Light has helped her cope.
“I felt like my world was ending. I didn’t know how I was going to continue on, and I found a way, and that was through the help of all the women here tonight,” she said.
Gregg Horvat, Gianna’s dad, said he also felt strong emotions as a husband and father going through the loss of a child.
“You’re standing by trying to be that strong wall for them to lean on, and inside, you’re melting down,” he said. “And I’ve met so many dads that feel that same kind of thing.”
As everyone blew out their candles on Thursday, they knew, they are not alone.
The latest numbers show Ohio’s infant mortality rate is 23 percent higher than the national average. As many as one in four pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.
In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, there will also be a memorial service at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown on Sunday, October 25. The memorial starts at 2 p.m. in Finnegan Auditorium, on the second floor of the hospital.