Runners ‘pound the pavement’ to help couples struggling with infertility

ST. GEORGE — The Pound the Pavement for Parenthood nonprofit organization held a 5K fundraiser Saturday at Confluence Park in St. George to raise money for couples from Southern Utah to Las Vegas.

The organization, established in 2010, brings awareness of the struggle faced by couples with infertility issues and helps raise funds for in vitro fertilization and adoption expenses.

Kai Wennerlind, a two-year-old "Miracle Baby" made an appearance at the Pound the Pavement for Parenthood 5k event, Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo by Kassi Gillette, St. George News
Kai Wennerlind, a 2-year-old “miracle baby,” makes an appearance at the Pound the Pavement for Parenthood 5K event, Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo by Kassi Gillette, St. George News

The 5K and 1-mile fun runs included members of the community as well as family and friends of several couples who were being sponsored at this year’s event.

Couples are selected for financial sponsorship after submitting online applications, through which they share their stories of struggle and heartache in trying to start their own families.

“We meet them in person, we talk to them about their timing and diagnosis and what they need,” Jill Witt, founder of Pound the Pavement for Parenthood, said.

“Honestly, a lot of it is praying about who needs it now,” Witt said. “Essentially, every event you help eight couples get closer to having a baby and raising a family.”

All of the registration money to enter the race will go to the sponsored couples. There were also drawings, with prizes that included two free IVF cycles and a free adoption home study that couples were able to win. Each person who registered to participate was also able to enter a name into the raffle drawings for the couples they were supporting.

“It means everything to us,” Cherie Mendenhall, a sponsorship recipient, said. “It means we can actually have a chance to start our family.”

Mendenhall and her husband, Stephen Mendenhall, have been trying to conceive a child for three years and have already gone through the in vitro process once without success. Cherie Mendenhall said IVF is trial and error, and she and her husband are hoping to raise enough money to assist in paying for their second attempt.

Their doctor, Dr. Geoffrey Sher, has helped many with the IVF process, including Karmann Wennerlind, a close friend of the Mendenhalls.

“My husband and I started trying back in 2005, and it took us almost 10 years to have our little miracle baby,” Wennerlind said.

Wennerlind and her husband found fertility specialist Sher, who helped diagnose the medical issues that were preventing them from having a baby. Wennerlind said she and Cherie Mendenhall share similar medical struggles, and, much like Cherie Mendenhall, her first IVF attempt was unsuccessful. After a second IVF, Wennerlind is the proud mom of 2-year-old Kai.

“It’s an extremely difficult and hard thing to go through,” Greg Mendenhall, Cherie Mendenhall’s father-in-law, said. “I don’t think people realize until your family has gone through it or you’ve gone through it yourself.”

The Mendenhall family had supporters come to Saturday’s event from Southern California, northern Utah and Las Vegas.

It’s been a heartfelt, unifying thing,” Greg Mendenhall said. “I think (this) will help them tremendously. IVF is not a cheap proposition. A lot of these couples need two or three attempts to actually get pregnant, so they need financial help. That’s one reason why we are so excited about a foundation like this one.”

One IVF process can cost upwards of $20,000, Greg Mendenhall, said.

For information about how to get involved with Pound the Pavement for Parenthood, visit the organization’s website.


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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.



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