Local advocate for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) awareness, Rob Trainor, is trying to get May 23 designated as SIDS Awareness and Memorial Day. Trainor has been reaching out to municipal, provincial and U.S. state governments to get them on board with the initiative and has had a degree of success, considering he’s only been at it for less than a year.
Trainor, who lost his one-year-old nephew Nathan to SIDS last June, chose May 23 to commemorate little Nathan’s birthday.
“I saw how devastated my sister and brother-in-law were about all this and I thought, when I talked to Saskatchewan about it, this was August 2014, I wanted to do something to put a smile on their face. Even if it was just for one second.” he said.
“Just so they would know that somebody cares about this. Of course, it’s ballooned well beyond that and has become more of an altruistic thing where I’d like to rid the world of SIDS if I could somehow.”
So far he’s been granted proclamations from many jurisdictions and says they’re still coming in. From bigger areas, he’s had Saskatchewan, B.C., Maine and New Mexico all on board for May 23 and on municipal levels the cities of Saskatoon, St. John, N.B., Brantford, Ont., Niagara Falls, Ont. and New Reno, Nev., have all agreed to the date as well.
Initially Lloydminster also agreed to declare May 23 SIDS Awareness and Memorial Day, but decided that because October is SIDS Awareness Month in the U.S., it was more in line internationally, and backed out of Trainor’s proposal, instead going along with the month of October as their time of recognition for the syndrome.
“The whole point of this is to raise awareness, so if Lloydminster wants to declare October SIDS Awareness Month, that’s wonderful, because I’ve got the bug in their mind and I’ve got people talking about it,” said Trainor.
Many other jurisdictions have followed suit in using the month as their time of recognition, but breast cancer awareness is also acknowledged in October and Trainor says it may overshadow SIDS having them both in that timeframe. He says that May would be a good month to feature the cause because few other awareness campaigns take place during that time. He also says the proclamations are just phase one of his plan with phase two involving some sort of event to raise money for charities involved with SIDS and to get governments thinking more about it.
Eventually, he would like to see the event, most likely a type of walk-a-thon, go global like the Terry Fox Run.
“We live in Canada and weather-wise in October, it’s not conducive to having walk-a-thons and charity events for the most part,” said Trainor. “To me, May works better because it allows people to, weather-wise, generally have better events.”
Because there is little known about SIDS, there are no early warning signs and generally people shy away from the topic, he feels it’s important to get a dialogue started so the syndrome can be addressed on a larger scale than it has been in the past. To Trainor’s knowledge, it is the only affliction with a 100 per cent mortality rate, meaning a child who falls victim cannot be resuscitated.
On the proclamation from B.C. there is a key point that says one in every 2,000 Canadian births die of SIDS each year.
“I don’t know how many live births we have every year in Canada, but that’s got to be thousands of families that are affected by this,” said Trainor. “Extrapolate that to the world, there are probably millions of families affected by this every year but nobody wants to talk about it.”
There is one charitable organization in the country involved with SIDS called Baby’s Breath Canada that supports research and provides support to affected families. If people are interested in donating to Baby’s Breath Canada they can visit babysbreathcanada.ca.