Lost and Found memorial walk helps families grieve, remember together

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. For families coping with loss, time doesn't make grief any easier.

"We lost Josh in 2013. It was April," said Laurie Holesapple. "And we struggled with our grief."

Four years later, Josh Holesapple, a father, musician and youth pastor, is still very much missed. Josh's daughters, Larissa, Alli and Meagan, were much smaller when they lost their dad in a car accident, just 13, 11 and seven years old. The family reached out to Lost and Found Grief Center to help them cope.

"In the beginning, you felt so lost and lonely and you just felt like you didn't have any direction," Laurie said. "It was scary, it was overwhelming. So it was comforting to come and see that other people had experienced that type of emotion."

That sense of community is important at Lost and Found. It's what their annual 5K Run and Remember event is centered around. Families who know what it's like to lose a loved one come together for a night, to reflect.

"They feel connected to this entire community of people who have experienced a loss, that miss their loved one, but that come together to remember them in a really beautiful ceremony," said Nannette Thomas, Program Coordinator at Lost and Found.

The night begins with a 5K, where Thomas said many families take the opportunity to walk and talk about their loved ones. The Holesapples have participated in the memorial walk since Josh's passing.

"Meagan shared that when she was running that first year, she was running for her dad," Laurie said. "She felt like that was something she was doing for him."

For the Holesapple family, it also is an opportunity to tell stories and smile.

"We want to remember Josh, we don't want to forget who he is," said Laurie. "And that's something that they all feared is that we don't hear his name as often. So it's an event that everybody feels comfortable sharing their story about Josh, and I'm sure other loved ones there feel that too. But just coming together and being able to share and honor those loved ones is important."

After the 5K is a ceremony, including a lantern lighting for each loved one lost.

The Run and Remember begins at 6:30 p.m. at Jordan Valley Park in Springfield. You can register at the park starting at 5:30 p.m. The proceeds from this event help Lost and Found continue to provide support services to families for free.