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Blackburn family portrait with the son on dad's shoulders outside on a grassy hill.

Turning Pain into Purpose by Emilee Blackburn

March 7, 2016 was a day full of love and joy. During the days leading up to the Tee It Up for Tatum golf tournament, we were working hard to make sure this was going to be a special day.  When the day finally arrived, calmness filled our spirit and allowed us to take in every moment. All our family and friends came together to honor our baby girl. It was truly amazing. Tatum’s spirit was felt so much in our presence that day.

The night before the tournament we went to the course at sunset to put up the banners and signs. We enjoyed being able to do this with our family. It was an adventure trying to put up every sign before it got dark. Our son, Walker, enjoyed doing this as well since he was a big part in planning this event for his baby sister. He was very proud to help.

When the day came, everyone started arriving and it was really happening! We had registration, lunch table and a raffle table with 50 items! We had a photo op tent on hole #5 where golfers put on the Ronald McDonald big red shoes and red nose, and showed creative ways of making hearts with their hands. Some of the golfers even teed off with the shoes and nose! Everyone had so much fun; you could feel the love everywhere and see everyone smiling and laughing. Everyone was a huge help and we couldn’t have asked for better teams than all the caring and generous people that came to support us and honor Tatum.  We thought it was going to rain that day, but it held off until the golfers were on their last hole. After golf, everyone enjoyed light appetizers while we did the awards ceremony and the raffle prizes.

When the event started winding down, we had a small balloon release with Walker.  We believe having him there for everything taught him so much. Seeing us turn our pain into purpose showed him that there is pain and tragedy and it does suck, but you can make something good come from of it and it will be ok.

Tee It Up for Tatum was held to honor our baby girl but also to support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas’ Healing Hearts program, which has been a tremendous support for us through this difficult time. When Tatum passed away, we received funds from RMHC CTX for Tatum’s headstone. We also received a beautiful engraved stone with Tatum’s name to be placed in the Ronald McDonald House’s memory garden. When we received Tatum’s stone, Walker placed it in the garden. He enjoys this spot because there’s a playground close by where he can play. So it’s not a sad place but a happy place for him when we visit. Walker has been by our side through Tatum’s loss and through this journey of grieving and he’s brought a ray of sunshine. This is what Tatum would have wanted. Her spirit lives through us.

Healing Hearts Gave Us HOPE

Ben and I recently joined the HOPE group provided through the Healing Hearts program, which has helped us tremendously. This past year we have felt alone with our emotions and feelings. Even though we have each other’s support, everybody grieves differently. We met with Worth Kilcrease, the HOPE group counselor, to find out more information about Healing Hearts and the HOPE groups. He invited us to join, something I felt we should have done a long time ago, but for some reason it was the right time for us, especially since we were coming up on the one year anniversary of losing Tatum. Our first HOPE group was the week before Tee it Up For Tatum. We were able to share our story, feelings and connect with other couples who were going through the same tragedy.  It was comforting to be with others who have suffered the same loss and to say and feel whatever you want.  You don’t feel judged, and most importantly, you don’t feel alone. We truly felt supported which is so important for our healing and ability to move forward. We understand you will never move on or forget, but you do learn how to live with the loss and learn to find meaning to live again. We found meaning when we decided we wanted to give back in honor of Tatum.

We found an amazing amount of support and HOPE when we decided to give back to honor our baby girl and support the Healing Hearts program through Tee It up For Tatum. We want all families to know they are not alone while suffering this loss.  All our love we have for Tatum went into having Tee It Up For Tatum. Bringing people together and sharing our story and sharing information about the Healing Hearts program helped us turn our pain into passion. All this came from our baby girl whose spirit will always be with us. We want Tee it Up for Tatum to bring HOPE to other families who have been through the same tragic loss.  By raising money for Healing Hearts, we can bring more awareness about this program that provides families the support they need to heal. Together with our angels we can help hearts heal!

Everyone’s support has been a true blessing and extremely humbling. We know Tatum’s legacy will live on through helping other families who have been through the same tragedy.  We know it can help to give other families HOPE as well!

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