Butterfly Girls plan to step aside after 2020

Butterfly Run founders Beth Primeau, left, Loralee McInroy and Barb Matteucci gather near Market Square Friday, September 28, 2018 in Belleville, Ont. The run has raised nearly $341,000 to aid families suffering the loss of infants or pregnancies and spinoff events are now in Peterborough, Ottawa and Brockville. The original Quinte run, however, is on hiatus for 2019. Luke Hendry/Belleville Intelligencer/Postmedia Network Luke Hendry / Luke Hendry/The Intelligencer

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A Belleville run supporting families who’ve lost infants or pregnancies will return in 2020, but likely under new leadership.

Belleville’s Beth Primeau and Stirling-Rawdon’s Loralee McInroy and Barb Matteucci founded the Butterfly Run Quinte in 2016. Motivated by their own losses, they wanted to raise funds to provide more information and supports to bereaved parents.

To date, they’ve raised more than $341,000 for the Belleville General Hospital Foundation and inspired other runs in Peterborough, Ottawa and Brockville. The money has funded bereavement kits for families, training for hospital staff, medical equipment and more.

The trio announced last year there would be no 2019 run as they took a break from the stressful job of organizing it. They have, however, continued to support local families. Donations in recognition of the run have also continued to be made to the hospital foundation.

Now they’re staging a return – but a brief one.

“We’re very excited to be back and we’re also very excited to have some new people join us,” said Primeau.

The next run will be held Sunday, May 3, 2020 at West Zwick’s Centennial Park in Belleville.

And while they’re once again immersed in planning the 2020 event, the organizers said their goal is to let others take charge by 2021.

“We still want to be part of it, but we’d like some other people to take over the major roles of the event itself,” Matteucci said, adding several people have volunteered.

“We have actually had a lot of interest,” she said.

“It was nice to have the time off from it, but it feels different this time, knowing we’re going to have other people helping us and that it’s going to be a transition year,” she said.

“The reason why we’re doing it again is there have been so many families that have said it has been such an amazing way to honour their babies,” McInroy said.

“It’s therapeutic when you’ve gone through a loss to be able to to focus and celebrate the baby in that way,” Matteucci explained.

“This has been very healing for me personally,” said Primeau.

Many of the run’s participants have described the relief they’ve felt at having a chance to discuss their experiences. When a baby dies or a pregnancy ends in an earlier loss, people may not know how or want to ask questions – yet that’s exactly what the parents need, the organizers have said. Primeau said the need for the run will continue, since there will always be people who need the aid it provides.

She said being involved in its creation and organization has brought her comfort.

“For me it’s been really helpful. It also keeps the memory of my daughter alive,” Primeau said.

She said she hopes the new organizers will find similar healing.

“I’m sure we’ll always have a little hand in it,” McInroy added. “It’s always part of our lives, and I think it always will be.”

Local support groups affiliated with the run continue, as do family support at the hospital, staff training and the provision of bereavement kits.

The latest run-funded project is the creation of two rooms at the hospital which will be used by families at the time of loss. Both are intended to improve privacy and separate those families from others who are having happy births.

A labour suite will have a bed for the mother’s partner; it won’t have the usual imagery or decoration used in regular labour rooms. The other room will be a quiet one for families.

“We’re happy that we’re able to provide a safe space for families,” Primeau said.

No completion dates have been announced.

“We’re always so grateful for the help we’ve received. It’s been a very humbling experience,” said Primeau.

The 2020 run, meanwhile, will include a short family walk, a five-kilometre walk or run and a 10-km walk or run.

Anyone interested in joining the run’s organizing committee should contact the founders via e-mail through the website at butterflyrunquinte.ca. McInroy said applicants should describe their interests in the run, their stories and what they offer.

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