Hewitt 5k offers a chance for healing and hope

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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IRMO, S.C. (WIS) - Billboards and yard signs around Irmo and Chapin show advertisements for the Hewitt 5K, an event taking place at Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo this Saturday.

The event is an opportunity to stay fit and healthy, but more than that the race offers a chance to heal.

Craig and Crystal Hewitt head up the Hewitt Foundation, a local non-profit that hosts the 5k each year.

“12 years. Parker would be 17, and Haley would be 15 almost 16. It feels like almost yesterday, but it has been quite some time”, said Craig.

For the Hewitt family, 12 years have passed since that fateful day in June of 2009, when life changed forever.

A tragic car accident in Lexington claimed the lives of their 2 children Haley and Parker Hewitt.

Crystal was seriously injured in the crash, confined to a wheelchair in the aftermath. But with God’s help, she has since healed.

While the Hewitt’s are still walking through the fire of loss. That loss has turned to purpose.

The family’s annual 5k run and walk raises money to keep the memories of Parker and Haley alive, through giving and service and random acts of kindness in our community, throughout the year.

“Whenever we hear of a need within the community, we try to be there and fill that need,” Craig explained. “Whether that’s someone going through grief, someone’s having a surgery, someone’s having a heaven anniversary date, any kind of need like that, we’re on it.”

The couple says their faith propels them to give. Their walk with Jesus, they say is the cornerstone that has sustained them through a trial few can fathom.

“When you lose everything, as a Mom when you lose your kids, you have lost everything,” Crystal said. “But my identity lies in him. And I’m so thankful that I had him to hold on to to get me thru this, and it’s really important to share that with others.”

From the ashes of grief, beauty was born twice. Ellington and Emerson arrived in 2010 and 2012 allowing this family of 4 to grow into a family of 6.

The Hewitt’s story serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of nights come hints that you’re not walking alone.

“I don’t know, that always meant so much to us. Having other friends- and strangers we don’t know show up, be there and just say- ‘Hey, we see you, we’re here for you, we love you.’ And that’s been our fuel that has gotten us along all these years.”

In addition to the 5k, the event sets aside a time for a release, of sorts. In years past, parents going through similar trials of loss send their hurts heavenward with a balloon release. This year, it will be butterflies.

The stories Crystal has heard through the years from those who participate in that balloon release, bring healing all their own.

Crystal described how a man came up to her after the event one year. “He said ‘Thank you so much for letting the parents who have lost, let their balloons go first.’ He said it was so healing. He said ‘me and my wife had a miscarriage 50 something years ago... and we never spoke a word of it since then, and she let her balloon go.’ He said it was such a good release, for both of them to feel that healing with that.”

The Hewitt 5k will take place on Saturday, June 26 at 8 a.m. at Saluda Shoals Park. You can sign up by heading to strictlyrunning.com or you can register at the event starting at 7 a.m.

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