SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome causes indescribable pain to families.
Jon Shaw and his family suffered an unimaginable loss: the death of his newborn son Alex in May.”He was fine one minute. Then five minutes later, he was turning gray and just wasn’t breathing anymore,” Shaw said. Alex was a twin to Ben, who is now five months old.
Neither Alex nor Ben had any medical issues: Alex died of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “We’re hoping that Alex’s passing will help further the research to some degree but there’s a lot of unknowns about it. No one knows exactly what causes SIDS,” Shaw added.
That’s why the Shaw family joined about 700 others in Springfield Sunday for the 25th Annual SIDS Race for Life walk and run. It was started by Barry Metayer in honor of his son, Barry Metayer, Junior, who died in 1982 of SIDS. He said they started with a golf tournament and then added the walk and race in 1990. “It really brings it all back to us. It’s great to see a group like that. They had so many people here today. It’s really what it’s all about,” Metayer said, in reference of the Shaw family and friends who numbered about 40 people in red t-shirts.
As tragic as each death is, races and walks like this one have helped researchers make an advancements in understanding why SIDS happens. In the past 25 years, more than 800,000 dollars has been raised through this walk and run in Springfield for research.
Congressman Richard Neal is a longtime friend of the Metayer Family and has championed efforts in Congress to raise awareness and funds for SIDS, and he said it’s working: “These cases now are almost obscure in the sense that you don’t read about it anymore because of the progress that’s been made…We’ve pushed hard on the SIDS research but also on the whole concept on the National Institutes of Health. If there’s a cure, they’re going to find it.”
Barry Metayer said in addition to research, educating pregnant mothers has been effective in reducing the number of sudden infant deaths in Massachusetts. There are programs like Back to Sleep, in which mothers learn to place their babies on their backs to sleep.