Losing a child is a harrowing, heart-breaking experience, particularly when that child is an infant.
The Witschen family of rural Monticello did just that last year, after their daughter, Laurencia, died just minutes after her birth. Mom Katrina knew, thanks to modern medicine and doctors, such as the late Dr. Eric Lefebvre, who guided her along the way, that this event was coming. Yet, as she states, nothing can prepare a parent for that kind of grief.
Now, however, the Witschen family, which is part of St. Michael’s Dehmer/Nielsen/Witschen clan, is turning that grief into a self-proclaimed “victory,” establishing a charity in Laurencia’s name to help children around the nation, and even the world, who are in need.
The charity will officially kick off in about two weeks, when the family will organize and host the “L.O.V.E” 5K run (Laurencia’s Orphan Victory Event) on Saturday, Aug. 23. The run will kick off at around 8:30 a.m., with registration from 7 to 8 a.m., at the St. Michael Public Works Building, near the Recreational Park in St. Michael.
There will also be a “fun run” for kids ages 5 to 11 (they’ll be divided into three age groups) and a diaper crawl for the little ones who aren’t quite walking or running yet. All of the details can be found on the L.O.V.E. 5K run website, which is a part of Katrina’s blog, dubbed “Victory of the Lamb,” written in Laurencia’s honor and capturing the life of Laurencia’s twin, Valencia, who is nearly a year old today.
Katrina writes: “We cherish every moment we had with Laurencia and the beauty she brought to our lives. But she’s only just begun leaving her mark on this world. In her memory, we believe many little lives could be impacted in beautiful ways. Laurencia doesn’t get to be here. We don’t get to hold her here. However, there are millions of children around the world longing to be held, to be wanted, to be loved, to have a family, some even fighting just for a chance at life.”
The run, then, is serving two needs – a way to keep Laurencia’s spirit alive for all to remember her brief, amazing life; and a way to reach out and help children everywhere in need, the family said.
“Since we love running and have been racing for several years, we thought it would be the best way for us to raise awareness of the needs of abandoned children. After Laurencia and Valencia were born, it seemed clear, and we felt called even, to hold an event in Laurencia’s memory. What began as an idea for a race became Laurencia’s Victory, a nonprofit organized to answer the call to act on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves.
Running standout Brendan Sage of St. Michael, a ranked runner for South Dakota State University and winner of both this summer’s Riverfest 5K and Hanover Harvest Fest 5K, has issued a challenge to the community.
I would like to invite anyone who will be in the St. Michael area August 23rd to consider participating in this 1st annual race for a great cause! If I can attend I will donate $1 for every second I run under 16 minutes. Let’s get some community support! Hope to be there and see some familiar faces.
Keep in mind Sage, who is just 20, ran the Hanover 5K in 15:05. That’s 55 bucks he’d throw to the charity if he can repeat that performance.
IF YOU GO
What: L.O.V.E. 5K, fun run and diaper crawl
Where: St. Michael Public Works Building on River Road (old city hall), near Rec Park
When: Run starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23
Why: To raise funds for orphans in need around the country/world in honor of the late Laurencia Witschen.
More info: www.LaurenciasVictory.org