In April 2012, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Legg woke up to a parent’s worst nightmare.
On what had been an ordinary spring night, Legg, a husband and father, awoke to his wife Laura, screaming upon finding their 15-month-old daughter, Josalyn, unresponsive.
Josalyn had succumbed to sudden unexplained death in childhood, defined as the sudden and unexpected death in children ages 12 months and over. It differs from sudden infant death syndrome, which strikes children under age 1.
“I wanted answers. I wanted to know why this happens — why you put a perfectly healthy child to bed and wake up with your wife screaming in the middle of the night,” Legg said.
But, SUDC leaves more questions than answers. According to its website, SUDC is diagnosed when all known causes of death have been ruled out. There is no way to prevent it and its cause(s) is unknown.
What Legg knows for sure is that his daughter, his baby girl (Josalyn has a big brother, Aiden, 5) was gone. She was her dad’s sweetheart, super smart and very independent, said Legg, who recalls watching her walk at nine months and attempt to put on her own shoes at 13 months. What were her favorite foods?
“She ate everything you put in front of her and it was gone,” he chuckled.
To commemorate Josalyn’s memory and to raise awareness about SUDC, Legg, his Family and the Special Forces Association Chapter 100 have organized Josalyn’s Jog for a Reason 5K and 1 mile Family Walk, at 10 a.m., April 6, at the Medical Arts Center in downtown Fayetteville.
Registration at Active.com is $30, and is also available on race day. Big T’s of Hope Mills will provide snow cones, balloons will be released, a bouncy house will be on site for children, so it will be a Family event, Legg said.
It is because of the support of fellow Soldiers and command leadership that Legg and his Family are able to move forward.
“When something like this happens and you have to refocus yourself and make sure your Family is taken care of, the Army has totally backed me on that,” he explained.
A strong Family unit also helps, and Legg said that his mother-in-law, Dawn Fordham, had a very special relationship with Josalyn.
“I was there when she was born,” Fordham said. “Every day was special. She made me feel special. She was really excited to see us. She was kind of a unifying factor in our Family.”
On April 6, the Legg Family will hold her memory dear as they run and walk for a reason.
By then, the Family will also have been blessed by the birth of identical twin girls, due this month.
For more information, visit http://www.active.com/running/fayetteville-nc/josalyns-jog-for-a-reason-5k-and-1-mile-family-walk-2013, or call Legg at 494-4995.