Bean bag benefit held for the beloved

Every year countless parents endure the unthinkable: the loss of a child. While this is a devastating and life-shattering tragedy, Academic Advisor Marj Thompson and her husband, SDSU graduate student, Jack Thompson have found a way to give back to families like themselves who have lost a child too soon. 

“Tehlula was born on May 9, 2010 and died of SIDS on June 29, 2010, so she would have been about seven weeks old,” Thompson said.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected death of a child before their first year. SIDS may also be referred to as “crib death,” and effects more families in South Dakota than any other state in the U.S. with reasons still unknown.

“We usually do an annual softball tournament to help families who have experienced this kind of loss, but summer kind of caught up with us, so we’re doing a bean bag tournament on Sept. 7.” Thompson said.

Thompson and her husband have now raised enough money for over 200 headstones for families like themselves. Many people might assume these headstones go only to families who have lost a child to SIDS, however, this is not the case. 

“Our foundation has helped with purchasing a lot of headstones but that isn’t our only goal. We want to support families financially but we want to be emotional support.” 

Thompson said that many headstones go out to parents who couldn’t afford one, or anyone from any town who has lost a child. Each headstone has Tehlula’s footprint and initials in the corner. 

“It started with us regularly going and visiting Tehlula at the cemetery, and after a while we noticed that some didn’t even have real headstones – just small name plates.”  

The event will be held at the Brookings Softball Complex on Sept. 7th. Each team will pay $20 with early registration on Sept. 1 and $30 a team for late registration on Sept. 6. $10 single entries are accepted and teams will be drawn the day of. Byes will be determined by registration order. Teams must check in at 10 a.m. and begin playing at 11 a.m. 14 sets of identical boards will be used, bags will be provided, and there will be a cash payout to the top four teams. The winning teams will win a set of boards. 

After the tournament, an auction will be held for tournament boards consisting of Jackrabbits, Twins, Broncos, Vikings, or Packers logos. Concessions will be available at the event. No glass bottles are allowed, and no dogs are allowed in the complex and there will be a bouncy house for children. To register, you can join the 2013 Tehlula Lee Foundation Facebook page for more information.