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story.lead_photo.caption Ella Shelton Co-Founder Taylor McKeen Shelton Foundation

Our Mission

Increase awareness of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood; fund crucial research into causes and prevention of SUDC; support the needs of families impacted by SUDC; and give back to communities and organizations across the state of Arkansas.

Tee off for Taylor

Golf Tournament & Reception

Who: Taylor McKeen Shelton Foundation

What: Morning golf scramble — breakfast, lunch, prizes, swag. Evening reception — heavy hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, dessert, music, live and silent auctions

When: Golf — 8:30 a.m.; reception — 7 p.m. June 29

Where: Shadow Valley Country Club in Rogers

Tickets: $100

Information: taylorsfoundation@yahoo.com

Why did you establish a nonprofit organization? On June 15, 2013, my husband, Wes, and I found our 14-month-old son, Taylor, unresponsive in his crib. Other than having a mild ear infection, Taylor had been healthy and happy. His death was ruled Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood.

During the first weeks and months after losing Taylor, Wes and I both struggled to find comfort and something that would ease our pain. We decided to establish the Taylor McKeen Shelton Foundation.

Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood is the fifth leading category of death among children ages 1 to 4. The main recipient of funds from the Taylor McKeen Shelton Foundation is the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Foundation, the only organization worldwide dedicated to promoting awareness, advocating for research and supporting those affected by sudden unexpected or unexplained death in childhood. The SUDC Foundation serves families that suffer through the unexpected and unexplained loss of a child over the age of 12 months. The program strives to provide answers but also provides a community for those parents struggling with SUDC.

Taylor's foundation has raised more than $800,000 to date. Although the majority of the money raised has been donated to the SUDC Foundation, TMSF has also been able to support local charities like Arkansas Children's Hospital Northwest and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkhoma.

What part of your job fills the most of your time? I have become a personal ambassador for the SUDC Foundation, speaking about Taylor and working to help connect other grieving families to the SUDC Foundation. Grief is a lifelong journey. The pain changes, but it never goes away. My grief is different than it was when Taylor first passed away, but I don't ever want to miss the opportunity to share his story.

What have you learned on the job that you didn't expect? I am humbled every day by the amount of support we have received from others. From our committee members who give so much of their time, to all those who have supported us by coming to events or donating to TMSF, we are beyond grateful. It's really amazing to see how gracious people are.

What challenges face your organization? SUDC has little to no public funding. The majority of funds raised for awareness, research and support come from events like ours in the form of private donations. There is also very little legislative support which can cause difficulty in finding answers for these families. We are lucky that we live in an area where there is a lot of public support, but with that support we have had to work hard to differentiate ourselves in an event-heavy area. That has taken a lot of hard work and dedication, as well as constant evolution.

Are there volunteer opportunities in your organization? What are they? Yes, we could not pull off our annual event without the help of many volunteers. We encourage people to volunteer with us the day of our golf tournament and reception.

What upcoming fundraisers and/or other events does your organization have planned? Our sixth annual Tee Off for Taylor Golf Tournament and Reception will be held June 29 at Shadow Valley Country Club. It is one of SUDC's largest single-day fundraisers. For more information, please visit taylormckeen.com.

NAN Profiles on 06/23/2019

Print Headline: Personified

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