July 26, 2010 was a day of both celebration and loss for Christopher and Angela Bullard.
It was the day they gave birth to their beautiful baby girl, Victoria Joy Bullard, and also the day they lost her to a fatal birth defect.
Refusing to allow grief to dominate the memory of their daughter, the couple committed themselves to honoring her memory. To that end they founded ForeverParents, a support group for parents who have lost children during pregnancy or infancy.
Along with community partners, they will host their first event - a community balloon release - Oct. 15 to commemorate National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The event will be at 10:30 a.m. at Village Park in Kannapolis.
Parents are encouraged to register at www.foreverparents.org to release a balloon in memory and celebration of their child.
"We want to encourage parents to honor the time and memories their little one has brought them," Christopher Bullard said.
The Bullards decided to start ForeverParents on July 26, 2011 - Victoria's birthday - and launched the website on July 28.
"Originally it was going to be something small," Angela Bullard said, "a support group on the Internet where people could talk and get some answers."
But after 150 people joined their Facebook page in one night, the couple quickly realized the large number of parents who needed help finding positive outlets to heal.
"To always be sad is not really healing," Christopher Bullard said. "But to do things that honor them, that's uplifting and healing."
Every month, ForeverParents presents a challenge to help parents grieve in positive, healing ways. In October, they challenge parents to plant a tree in their child's memory. In November they are asked to link up with Operation Christmas Child to fill a box for a child overseas. In December the challenge is to create a scrapbook documenting the time the parents got to share with their child.
No one gets over losing a child, Angela Bullard said. "We want to honor and remember them, to remember the good and not the bad," she said.
"Would our kids want us moping and not living life? That's not what our family stands for, so our kids aren't going to want us to do that."