BILLINGS – The Ramsey Keller Memorial Foundation was named after a baby who died shortly after she was born on Nov. 23, 2011.
Each year, the foundation helps more than 100 Montana families who have experienced the same type of loss.
More than 1,000 came out for the foundation’s biggest fundraiser, “Run for Heaven’s Sake” at Rimrock West Park.
“We really feel like it’s something we’ve been called to do,” said Kori Keller, Ramsey’s mother and executive director of the foundation. “Our foundation pays in full for infant funerals in the state of Montana. When you see the joy and fruitfulness come out of what we’re doing and that people get to honor their child the way that they choose without financial restrictions, it makes it all so worth it.”
“Helping others kind of got us through it,” said Jeff Ramsey, Kori’s husband.
“Our faith played a big role,” Kori said. “And also just making a decision very early on that we’re going to get through it together.”
The run is also a chance for families to remember their children.
“You’ve got maybe 40 or 50 signs set up at the finish line with babies that we’ve helped,” Jeff said. “Parents actually sponsor a sign. Good luck having dry eyes by the time you cross the finish line.”
A pink Montana license plate with the foundation website address, kisses2heaven.com, has helped.
“It has been a really big blessing to our foundation,” Kori said. “We love our license plate. That license plate really helps to keep us afloat. You can kind of pick them out and know that they’re a family like us. It’s really special.”
“This is the day they come to celebrate their kid,” said Jeff. “Everybody’s happy and everybody’s talking about it and that’s why you see the teams. It’s not a sad moment. It’s a moment to remember and recognize their child. And family members come and it’s kind of an open forum to talk about it and discuss it. It’s really cool because they’re with everybody else that’s been in a loss situation as well.”
“We wanted to celebrate Ramsey’s life,” said Kori. “We were proud that we had a little girl. We wanted to bring her home and that’s really the heart of what our mission is.”
And the race was a success.
“We had 1,094 runners and racers,” Kori said. “It’s our second largest year and it’s our biggest fundraiser of the year, so it’s really exciting. It’s an exciting day for our foundation.”
Run for Heaven’s Sake also includes the Josh Tyree half-marathon, along with 10-k and 5k races.
The foundation also puts on smaller runs in Helena and Miles City.