PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Back in 2017, at just 10-years-old, Mary Claire Friedl died suddenly. When her family looked for support, they found there were no centers in the Pittsburgh specifically designed to help grieving parents.
On Saturday, the Mary Claire Foundation held its 5K fundraiser.
“Mary was the kindest kid you will ever meet,” said Amber Nehnevajsa-Raine, Mary’s aunt.
“Mary was a champion for the underdog. If she saw a child sitting alone in school, she made it her mission to befriend that child and take them under her wing.”
The 10-year-old passed away in 2017 after a brief illness.
Nehnevajsa-Raine says it was a tragic loss for the family.
“It was completely unexpected and took our family to a grief path we never thought we would be on,” said Nehnevajsa-Raine.
But now they’re trying to turn that pain into purpose through the Mary Claire Foundation.
Organizers held their second “Living A Little Mary-er 5K” at North Park to help raise awareness and money.
Their goal is to create a healing center in the Pittsburgh area for grieving parents who lost a child.
Mary’s mother Jamie says there is a lack of resources to help parents heal.
“It’s our hope to be able to provide scholarships to parents who are grieving, to be able to send them to retreats, to hopefully begin some of the healing process that comes along with grief,” said Nehnevajsa-Raine.
She says the support from the community with help them achieve their mission, and the donations at this year’s race surpassed those from 2019.
“We have had an amazing response from our community,” said Nehnevajsa-Raine. “We truly live in the best community ever.”
“It feels good that people can come together to support Jamie and her family,” said Tiffany Stuckey, who participated in the race. “To see her journey and her progression from the loss she is dealing with, she’s a rockstar, and she’s a superstar. Whatever I can do to support her, I will do.”
Hoping the steps that are taken will help others cope — an act of kindness that Mary would have done.