It was on Sept. 22, 2012 that Jazmine Forester passed away due to complications from her heart transplant. For Julie Wallace and her mother, Shirley Holt, the past year has been a difficult one. But next Saturday, they will be looking not only to honor and remember Jazmine, but help raise money for a cause they believe in.
Wallace and Holt, along with cooperation from the Erika Kate Foundation, will host a fundraiser/walk in memory of Jazmine on Sept. 22 at White Pine County Park, across from the middle school.
“The Erica Kate Foundation helped me pay my bills when we were in California,” Wallace said. “It’s all just for heart babies. They do this every year and they called and said we’re doing a walk in Iowa and asked if we would do a walk in Jazmine’s name. We wanted to do this as a fundraising thing because it helped me and where there’s not many organizations for heart babies out there.”
The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. and no matter if you come to walk, to talk, or to donate, Wallace is working to make this Sept. 22 a happy occasion.
“It’s been a tough year,” Holt said. “We had talked about doing something up at the cemetery with family and close friends or something like that when they contacted Julie. This was the answer for what we wanted to do.”
Attendees will be able to donate to the Erika Kate Foundation on site, or by going online. The foundation, originally created in 2007 by Traci and Rich Maynard after losing their four-year-old daughter to complications from a heart transplant, assists families dealing with cardiac problems. The EKF helps with financial assistance from rent and medical expenses to dislocation expenses and utilities. But for Wallace, the foundation’s help extended far beyond donating money. It was the emotional support offered that helped the family through the difficult times they faced.
And that support was essential both while Jazmine was in the hospital and after. From monthly conference calls to receiving weekly emails from the foundation, having someone to talk to who knew what they were experiencing was as important to them as the financial support they provided.
“They’re there to listen to you cry, or provide books to help you,” Wallace said. “They would do anything to make you feel a little bit better.”
Wallace and Holt are hoping the fundraiser/walk can become a yearly event and have received support from various businesses and individuals donating to help make the event a success, Wallace said. And no matter if you come to walk, to learn more about the foundation or just to show support, both Wallace and Holt are hoping this event is a success.
“They can walk as many laps as they want to take,” Holt said. “If they don’t want to take any laps, they don’t have to. It’s just a gather to learn about this because it could happen in this community again.”
For Wallace, next week’s fundraiser means more than just a way to help an organization that helped her. It’s also a way for her to help heal a little bit more.
“Just the fact that they’re honoring Jazmine and it happens to be on the one-year anniversary of her death,” Wallace said. “They contacted me and we thought maybe we could try and do something here.”
While there will likely be a few tears shed, one of the biggest things that Wallace is looking to do is make sure this occasion is a joyous one.
“We’ve had our grieving moments, but we don’t want to make this a sad day,” Wallace said. “We want to make it a happy day. This is the best thing to do that.”
Donations can also be made online at /www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/julie-wallace-2/juliewallacesfundraisingpage/nonprofit
For more information about the fundraiser or how to donate, please contact Julie Wallace at 775-293-2420.