At RADfertility, we understand that infertility can be a very isolating disease to face. It is important to know you are not alone. The purpose of the Making a Difference series is to highlight the dedicated organizations and individuals in the community available to help you on your journey.
Christie Bonniwell, Co-Founder
Our community is filled with extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. Since 2018, Footsteps for Maddie has raised over $14,000 to support the Bayhealth Foundation’s bereavement program for families who have experienced a loss. The funds were raised through their annual 5k Run/ Walk which also serves as a special remembrance event creating awareness for pregnancy and infant loss. In addition, Footsteps for Maddie was a proud beneficiary of a Gal’s Night Out charity benefit from the wonderful Gals that Give community in July 2019.
We had the opportunity to chat with Christie to learn more about their mission, the meaning behind the name of the foundation and how their 5k came to be!
The Footsteps for Maddie Co-Founders (Jody Starke, Shannon Kerpen and Christie Bonniwell) with their families at the Annual 5k Run / Walk.
Can you tell us about the mission of Footsteps for Maddie and the services they provide?
Christie: We remember the babies born sleeping, those we carried but never held, those we held but could not take home, those we came home but could not stay. This mission was chosen because we want to remember every baby that is no longer with us.
Footsteps for Maddie raises money and provides resources and awareness for pregnancy and infant loss. We currently donate funds to the Bayhealth Foundation’s bereavement program. This program provides training to hospital staff, a rainbow baby program, and the purchase of products for families who lose a child.
When did you start Footsteps for Maddie and what is the meaning behind the name?
Christie: Footsteps for Maddie was formed in March 2018. The name was given after a Co-Founder’s daughter, Madelyn, and initially designed for the 5K run/walk. Madelyn was born premature at 23 weeks and she was only here for 16 hours before her passing. As Madelyn’s aunt, I wanted to honor her so I came up with the idea of holding a 5K. After talking with race companies and bank institutes, they said it would be easier to run these fundraisers under a non-profit. After much thought, we decided this was our best option, given we could hold many fundraisers, get our mission out, and honor Maddie.
What programs have been initiated through Footsteps for Maddie for hospital staff to learn how they can help families?
Christie: The Bayhealth Foundation is able to provide national level training to their staff from the funds that Footsteps for Maddie is providing. The training is provided to nurses in the labor/delivery floors but also to ER staff and local therapists.
Footsteps for Maddie making a $4,000 donation to the Bayhealth Foundation. Photo Provided
Tell us about the annual Footsteps for Maddie 5k and what made you decide to have a 5k to raise funds and bring awareness to pregnancy and infant loss.
Christie: The annual 5K run/walk is held at Killens Pond State Park, Felton, DE every October. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The decision to hold a 5K came in a dream. I woke up one day after Madelyn’s passing and told my husband that Maddie told me to hold a 5K. It took a while to figure out where to donate the money that would be raised. Footsteps for Maddie partners with Fusion Racing and one of their founders gave the idea to keep the donations local and to contact the local hospitals. After talking to the hospitals, we learned they were desperate to be able to help families who experience a loss. The funds were very limited for these programs, it only seemed fitting to donate to these programs. Very quickly we have learned that there is little awareness for pregnancy and infant loss and have made that our mission.
What has been the most challenging part starting Footsteps for Maddie?
Christie: Pregnancy and infant loss have always been a taboo subject, even grief is a taboo subject. Getting communities in Kent County to support our cause was a huge challenge because people did not want to acknowledge or did not understand the topic.
What has been the most rewarding part of starting Footsteps for Maddie?
Christie: Breaking those taboo barriers has been so rewarding. Hearing families talk about their children for the first time in public brings people together and they know their child will never be forgotten. One in 4 women lose a baby to pregnancy or infant loss so almost everyone knows someone who has had a loss. Some of these families have had to carry this “secret” for 40+ years and now they can talk about and honor their babies. To hear someone tell you “thank you for doing this, for bringing to attention that our babies mattered, that we still grieve, that we aren’t alone,” makes everything worth doing.
What do you hope to accomplish in 2020 with Footsteps for Maddie?
Christie: We hope to continue to provide funding to the Bayhealth Foundation. We also plan on starting a local support group for Kent County. Most of all, we hope to continue to honor and talk about those babies that are no longer with us and to bring the attention to pregnancy and infant loss.
More Patient Experience Resources
Patient Care Team
Meet RAD’s exceptional staff that goes above and beyond on many levels of patient care.
Top Fertility Doctors
Meet our clinical team made up of compassionate and caring women who will be by your side every step of your journey to parenthood.
Read Our Blog
Inspiring community members that are making a difference to the latest news put in perspective for our patients.
Our Seeds of Success program is founded on inspiring stories from men and women who found success at RAD.
Celebrating Two Decades
Two decades of inspiration and hope. See how RAD families have grown since the start of the practice in 1995.
Read our latest reviews written by RAD patients.
If you are looking to join an enthusiastic team that has helped thousands of families grow, check out our current job listings.
"We had a wonderful experience working with RADfertility. Our doctor was so sweet, informative and helpful with all of our questions. The front desk, it’s always nice to be greeted by a friendly smiling face."
"RAD heard my hopes, dreams, and wishes and led me toward them while holding my hand. My dream came true. I was guided to a beautiful baby girl! It took less than a year for my pregnancy to begin and it was successful. This was the best decision I ever made. Thank you, RAD!"
"From the beginning our team was determined to find a way for my husband and I to complete our family. All the RAD staff was knowledgeable and truly cared for us. We wish we could have continued with them after our baby hit 12 weeks. We thank them daily in our prayers for giving us our beautiful baby girl!"
"We will be forever grateful for the wonderful care we received at RAD! Dr. Feinberg took the time to listen and create a plan we were comfortable with. The whole team was amazing and truly care about their patients. You have exceeded our expectations. Thank you!!"
"Thanks to RADfertility, we have the most perfect addition to our family. The help and support the whole staff gave us was indescribable. We never once lost hope because of them. We will be forever grateful to each and every person we worked with during our journey."
"Dr. Neithardt was amazing. She explained in great detail all the options we had and put us at ease about the entire process. Everyone has been amazing and I have absolutely no complaints. Today I am 17 weeks pregnant and we only have Dr. Neithardt and her wonderful team at RAD to thank."
"They are the most amazing team of doctors and care coordinators. After having started at another facility I was so happy to come to RAD. They are truly amazing, never make you feel like just a number and have empathy and compassion every step of the way. They also get the job done! Thanks RAD!"
"Dr. McGuirk is a very holistic doctor. She doesn’t just treat the fertility issues. She also points out personal health ideas (juicing, whole 30) to help heal/treat the whole patient. She is honest and open. Be open minded and trust in her process. This is a marathon, not a sprint! Dr. McGuirk will be with you the whole way."
"I will never be able to put into words how thankful we are for RAD. Rhonda was there every step of the way as we were going through the process. Everyone was so welcoming and patient as we asked questions. We were blessed with a daughter, who is now three. I have already recommended and will continue to recommend RAD to people who need help growing their family!"
4735 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Medical Arts Pavilion 2
Newark, DE 19713
Silverside Medical Center
2700 Silverside Road, Suite 2A
Wilmington, DE 19810
Eden Hill Medical Center
200 Banning Street, Suite 240
Dover, DE 19904
Phone: (302) 602-8822
Fax: (302) 602-8832