Purple Balloons Fill Sioux City Skies For The 14th Annual Cherish the Children Walk And Service

By RACHAEL KRAUSE | rkrause@kcautv.com

Published 08/24 2014 10:57PM

Updated 08/25 2014 12:14AM

More than 300 people walked their way from Christy Smith Funeral Home over to Latham Park Sunday afternoon for the fourteenth annual Cherish
the Children walk.

Purple balloons filled the skies at the annual Cherish the Children event on Sunday.  The balloons symbolize the loss of a child.  It's something
so small, but so significant for the families participating and releasing their child's balloon.

"You know, when you're in a group this large, it's easier to feel like you're not the only one going through this, although you know
you're not," said Michelle Gunn, Cherish the Children Speaker and walk participant.

Michelle is here with her family, remembering her son, Tony, who died last year.  This is her second year participating in the Cherish the
Children walk and service afterward.  She said it's a powerful feeling.

"I felt like his presence was walking right there beside us and watching over us as we were doing the walk," she said.

And she's not the only one.  This year alone, more than 300 came out to honor a loved one who passed away.  The Cherish the Children organizers
say the annual event grows every year, for good reason.

"It has grown a lot. Some people walk repetitively, you know, they walk year after year after year. I think that it's something that once
you've done it, you kind of want to come back and do it again because you realize how important it is to recognize and honor that child," said
Brenda Zahnley, Bereavement Services for Christy Funeral Homes.

It's what inspired Michelle to share a favorite song of Tony's during Sunday's service.

"For me, you know, that was a part of him. That was a song that he sang personally  when he was in show choir at East High School and
those words meant something to him and they meant something to me and so it was like I was just sharing an expression of him," Gunn said.

And after losing a child, it's sharing in events like this that keep those memories alive.

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