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A family's grief and sorrow turn into a fundraiser for a prominent Southeast nonprofit

DAVID F. ASHTON - Muralist Max Collins of Hallow Studio pauses for a moment with 5K race organizer Jodie Brauer, who stands next to the mural her late son, Silas. On the chilly and overcast morning of Sunday, March 4, people started gathering in the Eastmoreland neighborhood to participate in the "Celebrate Silas Memorial 5K and Mural Project to Empower Healing and Hope".

From all over the greater Portland area, some 175 participants made their way to the playground at Duniway Elementary School, where they were welcomed by the event organizer, Jodie Brauer.

"My son, Silas John Bogdanovic, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) on March 23, 2011, one week after celebrating his first birthday," Brauer confided to us.

"As I was grieving, and trying to figure out what I wanted to try to do to celebrate his birthday the next year without him, I decided to train by running – and settled on 12 miles, a mile for each month that he lived," Brauer told THE BEE, as participants came by to greet her.

After running the dozen miles to celebrate subsequent birthdays for two years, friends started doing a four-mile run with her. In 2014 Brauer and her supporters aligned with nonprofit Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families, as a fundraiser.

Making it a public event, they chose to come up with a standard 5K walk/run route. "We wanted to include the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden on the way, because there is a bench there in Silas's memory," Brauer explained.

She chose The Dougy Center, Brauer said, "because of the important work that they do; and, since I live near it and started volunteering there, it just made sense."

Earlier this year many families participated in Max Collins' "Mural Project", where this local artist held workshops on behalf of The Dougy Center, to create a wood-mounted mural based on a photograph, to commemorate a loved one. Many of these murals were displayed along the Duniway playground fence that day.

At 10:00 a.m., Brauer climbed the play structure and greeted the assembled participants. After a brief introduction, she read a list of those who have passed away who were being honored by their friend or family members; and then the runners were off.

In all, about $10,000 was raised to help fund the nonprofit Dougy Center on S.E. 52nd.

To learn more about the 5K, visit the website www.celebratesilas.com; and for information about The Dougy Center itself, go online – www.dougy.org

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