The IRIS (Infants Remembered in Silence) Turkey Trot and Community Thanksgiving Dinner hammered home for me the awesome community we have in Faribault.

It's the main reason I've lived here for nearly 35 years.  Faribault is filled with big hearts.

Townsquare Media of Faribault (KDHL/POWER 96) and Owatonna (KRFO/KAT Kountry 105) presented the Turkey Trot event along with a number of other terrific sponsors.

The Thanksgiving dinner changed locations but it didn't seem to put a damper on anything.  I helped peel potatoes just as I have for many years. There were a lot of people deboning turkeys, filling little cups with cranberries and butter.  Emptying cans of vegetables into big tubs to get ready for cooking at the Faribault Eagles Club.

Both events were effected (like just about everything else) by COVID last year.  The Turkey Trot was virtual and there was no Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit when we started the Tot Trot and Gobble Wobble.  Frank Parrish did a great job of singing the National Anthem and Pastor Susan set the runners off with an awesome Thanksgiving morning prayer.

Then the IRIS Board of Directors had a big surprise.  Hans Fuchs did the honors of announcing the Board was going to burn the mortgage for the IRIS House in a fire bin across the street.

This is the 13th year of the IRIS Turkey Trot. In seven years they were able to pay off the mortgage.

Fuchs told me later it was so awesome to get that accomplished and all the people participating in the Thanksgiving event made it possible.

Founder of IRIS Diana Kelley, Fuchs and other board members were joined by some people at the small container used to burn a copy of the mortgage papers.

IRIS Mortgage House Burning. Photo provided by IRIS
IRIS Mortgage House Burning. Photo provided by IRIS

Over 1300 people were registered to participate in the events at the IRIS Turkey Trot.

I was honored to do my small part in the significant fundraising event for such a great organization.

My View Behind Han Fuchs Making Announcement. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
My View Behind Han Fuchs Making Announcement. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

IRIS was founded in 1987 the same year I arrived in Faribault.

My View from Inside Fette Electronics Announcing Trailer just Before National Anthem. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
My View from Inside Fette Electronics Announcing Trailer just Before National Anthem. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

IRIS provides services 100% free of charge to people who live in, deliver in, or return home to bury a child within a six county service area including Dodge, Goodhue, LeSueur, Steele, Waseca and Rice counties.

In 2020 IRIS provided  approximately 750 Bereavement Support Packets to grieving parents in the service area.

In 2021 IRIS has already given out over 500 Bereavment Support Packets.

In 2020 the IRIS website had over 445,000 hits from 212 countrries around the world, translated in 186 languages.

This year the IRIS website had over 580,000 visits from 223 countries, translated into 235 languages.

IRIS Services Include:

  • Bereavement Support Packets
  • Burial Clothing Set, come in 9 sizes and fit infants 10 to 40 gestational weeks
  • IRIS Advocate (volunteer who comes to the hospital and/or funeral home to assist the parents by answering questions, helping create keepsakes such as pictures, sculptures, hand and footprints, etc.
  • Quarterly newsletters
  • Common Burial
  • Support Groups (midday and evening)
  • One on One Support
  • Lending Library
  • Website
  • Memorial Quilts
  • Volunteer opportunities

Other IRIS events include:

  • Pancake Breakfast Bash with Silent Auction, Bingo, Bake Sale scheduled for February 13, 2022 (I usually call BINGO and we have a lot of fun)
  • Common Burial Services are held twice each year
  • The 28th Annual Holiday Service of Rememberance is December 5, 2021 at Shattuck
  • Little Black Dress Event is scheduled for March 12, 2022 at Owatonna Country Club
  • Heaven's Angels Motorcycle Run will be August 6, 2022 at Faribault Harley Davidson
  • 14th Annual IRIS Turkey Trot Thanksgiving, November 24, 2022
IRIS Tables Ready for Runners at Faribault Middle School Gym. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
IRIS Tables Ready for Runners at Faribault Middle School Gym. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

Here are some CDC (Centers for Disease Control) statistics to give you an idea of how many people can use their services.

  • 200 in 1,000 "known pregnancies" end in early pregnancy (miscarriage) which is approximately 250,000 women experiencing a miscarriage every year in the USA
  • 40% to 50% of all pregnancies end in early pregnancy loss (miscarriage)
  • 900,000 early pregnancy losses each year
  • 17 in 1,000 pregnancies end in Ectopic Pregnancy
  • 28,384 infants (500 to 2500 grams or 1 to 5 pounds) die each year in the USA
  • 16,015 infant boys born after 20 weeks dies each year
  • 12,368 girls born after 20 weeks die each year
  • 28,383 babies are stillborn in the USA every year
  • 4 million stillbirths happen each year around the world
  • 10 infants in 1,000 births are stillborn in the USA each year
  • 9.343 post-neonatal deaths occur each year (ages 28 days to one year)
  • 18,593 Neonatal deaths each year (less than 28 days of age)
  • 27,936 infant deaths from birth to 12 months of age
  • 233 infants in 1,000 live births die before 1 year of age due to premature birth, birth defects, illness.
  • 28,000 infants die each year from preterm birth
  • 4,600 unexpected infant deaths each year (SIDS- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • 200 unexpected deaths of children ages 1 to 4 each year (SUDC-Sudden Unexplained Death of a Child)
  • 24,000 children die in their first year of life
  • 1,500 children die each year from SIDS/SUID
  • 1,200 children die from unknown causes
  • 900 children die from accidental suffocation
  • 1 in 4 women will experience infant loss

Infant mortality is one of the most important indicators of the health of a nation because it's associaed with a variety of factors like maternal health, quality and access to health care, socioeconomic conditions, public health practices.

Calm Before IRIS Turkey Trot inside Faribault Middle School Gym. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Calm Before IRIS Turkey Trot inside Faribault Middle School Gym. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

Other major sponsors for the 13th Annual IRIS Turkey Trot were:

Diamond Sponsor

  • City of Faribault

Platinum Sponsors

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Crossroads Professional Group
  • Dr. Ashley Thorson
  • Gopher Sport
  • Premier Bank Faribault
  • Z-Techs

Gold Sponsors

  • Boldt Funeral Home
  • Channel Inn Warsaw
  • Faribault Foods
  • Faribault Rent N' Save
  • Fette Productions
  • Poly Pak Plastics

When I was finished with my duties at the Faribault Middle School I realized I could still assist with the delivery of Thanksgiving meals for those requesting the service.

Organizers had those delivering meals form a line with their vehicles in the back parking lot of the Eagles Club.

In past years you would leave your vehicle and go inside the American Legion to get meals.  Scores of people would stand in line.  With COVID the vehicles outside did not have all those people in the same area indoors.

Faribault Fire Chief Dustin Dienst and Faribault Police Sergeant Matt Knutson brought the meals out to the vehicles with slips including delivery information for the meals.

I made three trips. When I returned I asked if I could get a meal to go which they replied of course saving me cooking time. It was delicious.

Wednesday night I snapped a few photos of the work at the Faribault Eagles Club.

Vern Steffens Peeling Potatoes. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Vern Steffens Peeling Potatoes. Our Tub Runneth Over.  Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

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