ST. GEORGE – Pound the Pavement for Parenthood is more than a fundraising running event. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for couples, with the help of their community, to achieve their dreams of starting a family. For others, it is the impetus to find the courage to share their experiences with infertility, which often carries a burden of shame and silence.
Pound the Pavement for Parenthood was created by Jill Witt of Cedar Hills, Utah, who experienced the challenges of infertility while attempting to start a family with her husband, Allen. Though they are now fortunate enough to have a baby girl, she remembers all too well the difficult, emotional years of waiting, working and hoping for her dream to come true.
The first-ever Pound the Pavement for Parenthood 5K was held in 2010 in Saratoga Springs, Utah, as a fundraiser for in-vitro fertilization for the Witts. Since then, the organization has raised approximately $52,000 total, making fertility treatment or adoption possible for 12 families. Sponsored couples have welcomed eight babies, with more on the way.
“Establishing Pound the Pavement for Parenthood has been incredibly healing for me. It has helped me step out of the dark and lonely place that infertility can be and, instead, helped me focus on the hope that comes from supporting others,” Witt said. “Some of my dearest friends are those who I have met through this organization.”
Today, Witt’s mission is to share all she learned during her own journey to help others who are walking the same road. Pound the Pavement for Parenthood will make its first trip to Southern Utah on Sept. 14 for an event benefiting two lucky couples, Joape and Christine Druava of St. George and Kenny and Emily Ward of Las Vegas.
Joape and Christine Druava
The Druavas’ story begins in the summer of 2004, when Christine Druava moved to Oahu to study at the University of Hawaii and met Joape Druava, a Fiji native attending BYU-Hawaii and working at the local Polynesian cultural center. They started dating a couple months later and were married in Salt Lake City in July 2005.
Soon after their wedding, they made the decision to start a family. Nearly a year went by, during which time they waited and began to worry, before Christine Druava discovered she was pregnant. Their daughter, Maraia Druava, was born in August 2007.
While Maraia was still an infant, Christine Druava was diagnosed with stage IV endometriosis, a disease affecting the uterus that causes severe pelvic pain and often, infertility. According to doctors, the birth of Maraia was a “miracle” and the couple’s chances of having another biological child were slim.
Since then, Christine Druava has endured four surgeries, including the removal of her right fallopian tube and ovary after the endometriosis spread throughout her abdomen. Her remaining tube is damaged; the couple tried several costly procedures and medications and were eventually informed that in-vitro fertilization was their best option. With the help of Pound the Pavement for Parenthood, they have been working and saving for the treatment.
“We are grateful every day for our little miracle baby and hope there are more miracles in our near future,” Christine Druava said. “Maraia prays daily for a brother or sister. I can’t wait for the day I can give that to her. We feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity.”
Kenny and Emily Ward
The Wards, Idaho farm boy Kenny and Colorado native Emily, met in 2009 at a country line dancing club in Las Vegas and wed in late 2010. Kenny Ward has a son in Texas from a previous relationship, 5-year-old Kason Ward, to whom Emily Ward became a stepmother upon their marriage.
In 2007, before they met, Kenny Ward was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy called myotonic dystrophy. With no way to predict what symptoms might occur over his lifetime, he seemed healthy until the couple began trying for a baby right after their wedding.
A year later, with no luck, they turned to fertility specialists. All of Emily Ward’s tests checked out, but Kenny Ward’s condition had done its damage. Another year of medications and treatments ended in solemn news from doctors: Their only option was in-vitro fertilization, which would cost over $20,000 – far more than they could afford.
They learned about Pound the Pavement for Parenthood purely by chance, applied and were accepted to be one of the sponsored couples.
“They have given us hope. The entire (group) has been so supportive and caring through the whole experience,” Emily Ward said. “Most of them have experienced the struggle of infertility in their own way, so they have always offered words of encouragement, advice and love. Their strength has given me and my husband what we need to continue fighting and pushing forward in our journey to start a family.”
Southern Utah’s first Pound the Pavement for Parenthood 5K and fun run will be held Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to noon at Confluence Park in St. George.
Anyone wanting to take part must register online, which is available through Sept. 13. Registration costs $35 for the 5K, $30 for the fun run and $10 for children under 12 in the fun run. The registration fee includes a commemorative T-shirt.
Those who don’t wish to participate can still make a donation of any amount to the sponsored couples via the organization’s website.
“Some people will show up for the workout, some just to walk, and others fall somewhere in between,” Pound the Pavement for Parenthood board member Tyson Horrocks said. “Essentially, this event is for anyone and everyone.”
Race participants have the choice, at no additional cost, to enter a raffle for a free in-vitro fertilization cycle provided by Dr. Russell Foulk of the Utah Fertility Center St. George and two half-price cycles from the Reproductive Care Center. Recipients will be drawn and announced after the race.
“This is about people. We want this to be an organization that becomes a network for people to find support and make friendships that will help them through the struggle,” Witt said. “Supporting us makes a difference. It’s an exciting thing to help make a miracle happen in a person’s life.”
For more information on how you can get involved with Pound the Pavement for Parenthood, including hosting an event in your city, volunteering or donating, visit the Pound the Pavement website here.
Event details and contact information
Date: Sept. 14
Time: 8 a.m. to noon
Location: Confluence Park, 1850 South Convention Center Drive, St. George
Admission: $35 (5K), $30 (fun run), $10 for children under age 12 (fun run)
Contact: Jill Witt – 801-636-9892 or [email protected]
For more about Southern Utah running events, visit the STGnews RUNdown.
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