SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death to infants from 1 month to 1 year old but a walk held in Springfield on Sunday is helping to lower the rate.
Hundreds of people walked and ran in the 22 nd Annual SIDS Race for Life in Springfield.
It was started in memory of Barry Metayer Jr. who died unexpectedly. Barry Matayer Sr. explained why they hold this race every year, "When our son died our philosophy was try and get involved and make a difference and our goal was if we can save one baby's life this would all be worth it and the SIDS rate in Massachusetts has gone down by over 50% in that time frame."
SIDS is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under the age of 1 in which an autopsy doesn't show any explainable cause of death.
It can be traumatic for any family and it was for Kim Winnegge who lost her niece just this year to SIDS. "It's awful because I never got the chance to meet her, I've never been able to hold her, so the first time that I'm meeting her is actually the time that I'm saying goodbye," said Winnegge.
But because of fundraising like this and research the risk of SIDS has been reduced. Rep. Richard Neal comes to support the event every year because Barry Matayer is a good friend and the cause is close to his heart. "Research is the path forward and in this instance here the success is being felt is there for all to see," said Neal.
The race also brings together families who have suffered from the same loss. "Being here with all of these people who have gone through this experience … People know what it's like to put a baby to sleep forever," said Winnegge.
Since its inception, the race has raised half a million dollars for SIDS research so other families won't have to deal with the loss of a young child.