Family Focus: Rubber duck race raises money for organization helping grieving families

CHARLOTTE — On Sunday, thousands of rubber ducks floated down the rapids at the Whitewater Center. They raced to raise money for a critical cause in our community -- KinderMourn.

The organization serves parents who have lost children, and it also helps children and teens who have lost a loved one.

One mom told Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis about the incredible difference KinderMourn has made in her life and others’.

“We got to the triage room and that’s where they kind of hook you up to the monitors and make sure you are really in labor and that your water did break, and that was when they could not find a heartbeat,” Natalie Carter, a mother and KinderMourn board member, recalled.

Up until that point, Carter had a normal pregnancy. But when she went to the hospital to deliver her second son, Ethan, she learned they had lost him.

“I was broken, I was devastated,” Carter said. “I didn’t know anyone that this had happened to, I didn’t know where to go next.”

She found her way to KinderMourn, which is the only organization of its kind in Charlotte that provides grief counseling.

“I told my sister, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever smile again.’ I told her that,” she said. “But, through KinderMourn and a lot of hard work and healing, I do smile again, I smile all the time. It doesn’t change the loss; Ethan is always part of our family.”

She credits KinderMourn with helping her get in a position to receive joy again, to be there for her oldest son, Elias, and bring a new light into the world -- her 16-month-old son, Amir.

She sees Ethan as a gift.

“He was born Oct. 10, 2016. So this October he would have been six. But we still call him ‘baby Ethan’ in our house. And we talk about him, and we honor him,” Carter said. “But KinderMourn helped me put my life back together.”

Last weekend, KinderMourn held its biggest fundraiser of the year. The Hope Floats Duck Race was at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The money raised will go directly to their programs, giving them the ability to travel to area schools to offer counseling and help those who can’t afford to pay for counseling services.

Carter says those services are lifesaving.

“I do know that you get through it, you get through it,” she said. “And that’s the hope, because I lived that, that I can give to mothers and fathers and to say, ‘your family will heal from this and you will think of the child you lost with a smile instead of just with sadness.’ And that’s what Ethan is for us.”

If you want to make a donation for Sunday’s fundraiser, you can buy a duck or you can just show up to show your support.

>> For more information about KinderMourn, click here.

>> For information about Sunday’s rubber duck race, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: ‘Roll with the punches’: Grief provides unique perspective for widow navigating 2020 challenges)

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