Ridgefielder Andy Jackson to run in New York City Marathon
It may be considered the largest marathon in the world and pulls runners in from around the globe, but it’s definitely a local matter for two men from Ridgefield and Wilton who will be running to help save babies’ lives as part of Team First Candle in this year’s TCS New York City Marathon, on Nov. 3.
First Candle is the New Canaan-based national nonprofit whose mission is to end Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant mortality, and to provide bereavement support to families. This is the fifth year First Candle has been named an Official Charity Partner of the event.
While neither has lost a baby himself, both men have been affected. Wilton resident Jianghong (John) Wang recently ran his first marathon in Maine over the summer and has always dreamed of running in the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) New York City Marathon.
“I have a friend whose first baby died of SIDS,” he said. “I believe anything we can do to raise the awareness of parents and help to find ways to reduce the occurrence of SIDS is a great thing for anyone to get involved in.”
For Ridgefield resident Andy Jackson, the loss hits closer to home.
In 2013 his niece, Emma Kathryn Dailey, was stillborn. While his sister Tracy funneled her grief into starting a nonprofit foundation, it took Andy a while to deal with it.
He believes a chance encounter at Tusk and Cup in Ridgefield with First Candle CEO Alison Jacobson was the nudge he needed to get involved - the “chance encounter that led me to the First Candle team” - and into his first-ever marathon.
“I am so proud of my brother for taking on the challenge of running in the NYC marathon supporting First Candle,” Tracy said. “His support makes my heart burst with joy that he is running in memory of his niece.”
Joining Wang and Jackson on the team are a dad running in honor of his baby who died 10 years ago, a woman whose niece was stillborn, and a new mom running in honor of another mom in her community who lost her baby to SIDS. As Jacobson notes, raising awareness for SIDS, stillbirth and other sleep-related infant deaths is critical.
“We’re so proud of our ‘inaugural’ runners and so honored to have the support of Stamford Health and Fairfield County Bank,” Jacobson said. “It means so much to our work. People don’t realize SIDS and accidental suffocation claim the lives of more than 3,600 babies every year and that there are 24,000 stillbirths.
“It’s important for everyone to learn the AAP safe sleep guidelines, to reduce the risk of SIDS and prevent accidental suffocation. And for those families who have tragically experienced a loss, we’re here providing grief support services. Our dream is to see every baby reach his or her first birthday.”