Star Legacy Foundation

Blog - Stillbirth Matters

The Starfish Story & The Power of One

January 23, 2014

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Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. 
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, ”Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!
from The Star Throwerby Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

At times it seems as though our quest to bring awareness to the tragedy of stillbirth and other forms of pregnancy and neonatal loss is much to large to conquer.  Just the thought of 26,000 babies a year lost each year in the US alone, or 4 million world-wide is mind boggling.  How can we possibly make a difference?  

The truth is that every storm starts with a single rain drop; every marathon begins with a single step and every life begins with a single heartbeat.
Each one of us has the power within us to influence change and to encourage others to do the same. Commitment carries us from the first effort to the next, and the next after that.  Our efforts although they may seem small influences others to get involved as well and the momentum swells.
Here are a few examples how the Power of One can make a difference…..
  • Deb Haine Vijayvergiya of New Jersey and her husband lost their daughter Autumn Joy at 22 weeks to stillbirth.  Determined to make a difference, she single handedly pushed for a piece of legislation in her state that will change the way things are done!  She did all this by learning the ropes of legislation, talking to countless individuals and working side by side with elected officials and their staff to craft the legislation and get it passed.  AND – the Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research & Dignity Act passed in the very first year it was introduced  – an amazing accomplishment.  Read the full story.
  • Sherokee Ilse of Minnesota (and now Arizona in the winter) lost her son Brennan to a full-term stillbirth over 30 years ago.  Since that time she has worked tirelessly to support families in their darkest days.  The trauma of her own stillbirth when she barely saw her newborn son and left her with so very many regrets motivates her to make sure that families have every opportunity to make a lifetime of memories in a few short hours or days.  She has authored numerous books or various aspects of the grief surrounding pregnancy and infant loss; she speaks to anyone and everyone on ways they can avoid those awful regrets.  Her bio goes on and on but again, she is an example of how the power of one can make a difference. Visit Sherokee’s website.
  • Grandma Mary buried two babies over 50 years ago to stillbirth.  She heard about 11 Angels and their programs of parent to parent support for families.  Although she is elderly and in a care center, she knits tiny gowns, caps and blankets that 11 Angels gives to families to be sure their precious babies can be buried in clothing that fits.  That’s the Power of One!
Not everyone can independently create change and these determined women will tell you they had help, but everyone can contribute in some way no matter how small.  And all efforts are putting more starfish back into the sea .We could list many, many more individuals who have been champions for the issues surrounding stillbirth and in the future we’ll be telling you about a new program we’re starting soon bring greater awareness to the issues and the efforts of those like Sherokee, Debbie and Mary.  Stay tuned – it’s still a secret for a little while!!  
The Star Legacy Foundation relies entirely on the volunteer efforts of so many to push forward toward our dream of stillbirth truly being a rare event.  Perhaps you don’t think you can make a difference – but remember the starfish.  Even the smallest efforts of one can make a powerful difference to even one family.  Maybe you can volunteer to make some phone calls, or sew tiny clothing or blankets to give these precious children something that fits to be buried in; maybe you can hold a fund-raising event to support new research; and the list goes on and on.  See other opportunities.
We may each only be one person but together we can make a huge difference for these children and their families.  Consider stepping up to lend your time and talents – we all have something to share and together we can make a difference – even if for only one starfish at a time.
Contact us below if you would like to help!

“A single, ordinary person still can make a difference – and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day.”

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The Starfish Story & The Power of One


  1. craiglock says:

    Reblogged this on Unsung Heroes and commented:
    “Each one of us has the power within us to influence change and to encourage others to do the same. Commitment carries us from the first effort to the next, and the next after that. Our efforts, although they may seem small, influence others to get involved as well and the momentum swells.”

    “A single, ordinary person still can make a difference – and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day.”

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