ST. GEORGE — Couples on the path to building a family can encounter challenges and stresses, one of the greater among those being infertility. While solutions are available, in vitro fertilization and adoption among them, those solutions can come at high cost, sometimes leaving the couple with a sense of hopelessness or inadequacy.
Four Southern Utah couples have been selected for charitable help by nonprofit organization Pound the Pavement for Parenthood, which raises money to help couples with the costs of in vitro fertilization and adoption.
The community is invited to join as benefactors for the selected couples by participating in Pound the Pavement’s third annual Southern Utah 5K and 1-mile fun runs.
The runs take off from Confluence Park, 1850 S. Convention Center Drive in St. George at 8 a.m. on Sept. 19. Participants may register online. Race fees are for the 5K, $30 for the 1-mile fun run and $15 for children, 12 and under. T-shirts are included but not guaranteed for registrations after Sept. 5.
“My favorite thing about … Pound the Pavement is the awareness we bring to the community, and the relationships we build with others who are struggling with the same problems and issues that we have,” Southern Utah Race Director Christine Druava said. “We understand each other, and we build great friendships and relationships that last a lifetime.”
Race proceeds will be split equally among the four couples. Those wishing to donate without participating in the run may do so via the Pound the Pavement website.
Meet the couples
Shane and Tiffany Hilliard
Shane and Tiffany Hilliard were married in 2006 and in June 2007, Tiffany Hilliard had a tubal pregnancy and miscarried. After trying to conceive for a couple years, the couple wrote in their bio Web page for Pound the Pavement, Tiffany Hilliard was diagnosed with hydro salpinx, or fluid in the tubes, and told her tubes were enlarged.
In Sept. 2009, the Hilliards beat the odds and became pregnant with a baby girl. However, in November that year, Tiffany Hilliard began having complications and lost the baby at 23 weeks in January 2010.
The couple was told Tiffany Hilliard’s hydro salpinx had become more severe, they said in their bio, and there was a zero percent chance of conception.
“At this point our only option was IVF (in vitro fertilization),” the couple wrote in their bio. “After taking (sic) to various doctors and finding out the considerable cost that came with the treatment involved we were heartbroken because it would be years before we could come up with that kind of money.”
Stephen and Cherie Mendenhall
Stephen and Cherie Mendenhall were married in 2011 and knew from the beginning they wanted to have a big family, they wrote on their bio Web page for Pound the Pavement. After two years of planning and trying to conceive, the couple became discouraged because Cherie Mendenhall still was not pregnant.
After countless vials of blood, many tests and several doctors’ opinions, their bio describes, the couples’ diagnoses showed problems with Stephen Mendenhall’s semen analyses and diminished ovarian reserve in Cherie, along with natural killer cells and a genetic mutation. In vitro fertilization was their best chance for pregnancy, they were told, and they proceeded through a first round, with only one embryo surviving implantation. However, the couple wrote, in April 2015 they found out they were not pregnant and so, they are preparing for another round.
“Our new reality is not discussing whether we are going to have four or five children but instead putting all of our heart and energy into having one child,” the couple wrote in their bio. “We can’t wait for the day that we are pregnant for the first time. We can’t wait for the day we get to hold our precious baby in our arms. Now more than ever we need help to achieve these dreams. IVF is expensive and we never planned on having to pay for a whole additional round.”
Jeremy and Mariah Smith
Jeremy and Mariah Smith were married in 2007 and have been struggling to get pregnant for eight years, they wrote on their bio Web page for Pound the Pavement. Mariah Smith has taken many forms of infertility medication and had intrauterine inseminations with no success in conceiving.
After taking a break, the Smiths quest to have a baby resumed. More tests, more specialists and Mariah Smith was ultimately diagnosed with a unicornuate uterus – in simple terms, half of a normal uterus that also means she has only one fallopian tube, they wrote in their bio. Conception will be a challenge and if successful, Mariah Smith will have a high-risk pregnancy, they wrote.
“After finding out all of this new information, we were broken hearted, yet still pleased to know what the main problem was,” Mariah Smith said in the profile. “We continued on with doing more IUI cycles last year, but still didn’t result with a pregnancy. Our doctor recommends IVF as our next option to starting our family.”
Joe and Andrea Stubbs
Joe and Andrea Stubbs met in 2003 and have been inseparable ever since, they wrote in their bio Web page for Pound the Pavement, describing a litany of outdoor activities and vacations they have enjoyed together over the past 12 years.
“Like all sponsored couples we have had our share of difficulties, and because of the personal nature of infertility it can take a large emotional toll,” the Stubbs wrote. “We have tried to take everything in stride, and continue to live our life to the fullest.”
The Stubbs started trying for a family in 2006. In 2007, Andrea Stubbs started taking Clomid and in 2008 a hysterosalpingogram, an X-ray test that looks at the inside of the uterus, showed her left fallopian tube had a minor blockage, but, they wrote in their bio, the doctor was still confident they would conceive.
In 2009, facing life challenges of Joe Stubbs being laid off from his job, thereby losing insurance, the couple stopped trying until the end of 2012.
“In our minds there was no rush,” the Stubbs wrote in their bio. “We are young and the doctor just gave us a clean bill of health. We felt like we had plenty of time.”
Until 2012. The Stubbs resumed their efforts to conceive –aggressively, they wrote in their bio. Andrea Stubbs then learned she had endometriosis, a cyst nearly the size of a baseball. Following alternative measures to reduce the cyst, surgery to remove it and rounds of intrauterine inseminations, to no avail, the couple was told, they wrote, that in vitro fertilization was their only option.
Opportunities for other couples
Additional help is being brought by Sher Fertility Institute, Utah Fertility Center, Loving Hand Adoptions and Premier Adoptions; thanks to these, four other couples will have the opportunity to win, through a raffle, a full in vitro fertilization cycle, 50-percent off an in vitro fertilization cycle, and two free adoption home studies.
Registered runners can enter one ticket for themselves or for another couple, and the raffle will take place following the run. One or both parties — either the runner or the couple — must be present to win.
- What: Pound the Pavement 5K and 1-mile fun run
- When: Saturday, Sept. 19, 8 a.m. to noon
- Where: Confluence Park, 1850 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George
- Register online: Pound the Pavement St. George
- Cost: 5K – $35 | 1-mile fun run – $30 | Kids 12 and under – $15
- Big dreams, little miracles; Pound the Pavement for Parenthood fundraising 5K, fun run
- Growing miracles; Utah Fertility Center brings IVF to Southern Utah
- Charity run provides hope, funds for couples with infertility struggles
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