It may be considered the largest marathon in the world and will pull runners from around the globe, but it’s definitely a local matter for one Wilton man who will be running to help save babies’ lives as part of Team First Candle in this year’s TCS New York City Marathon, on Sunday, Nov. 3.  

First Candle is the New Canaan-based national non-profit whose mission is to end Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant mortality, and to provide bereavement support to families. This is the fifth year First Candle has been named an Official Charity Partner of the marathon. First Candle is led by CEO and Wilton resident Alison Jacobson.

Wilton resident Jianghong (John) Wang recently ran his first marathon in Maine over the summer and has always dreamed of running in the TCS New York City Marathon. He has not lost a baby himself, but he has still been touched by SIDS.

“I have a friend whose first baby died of SIDS,” he said. “I believe anything we can do to raise the awareness of parents and help to find ways to reduce the occurrence of SIDS is a great thing for anyone to get involved in.” 

Joining Wang on the First Candle team are a dad running in honor of his baby who died 10 years ago, a Ridgefield man whose niece was stillborn, and a new mom running in honor of another mom in her community who lost her baby to SIDS. As Jacobson notes, raising awareness for SIDS, stillbirth and other sleep-related infant deaths is critical. 

“We’re so proud of our ‘inaugural’ runners and so honored to have the support of Stamford Health and Fairfield County Bank,” Jacobson says. “It means so much to our work. People don’t realize SIDS and accidental suffocation claim the lives of more than 3,600 babies every year and that there are 24,000 stillbirths.”

Local sponsors of Team First Candle include Stamford Health, a Premier Sponsor, and Partner Sponsor Fairfield County Bank. Additional sponsorships are available.

“It’s important for everyone to learn the AAP safe sleep guidelines, to reduce the risk of SIDS and prevent accidental suffocation. And for those families who have tragically experienced a loss, we’re here providing grief support services. Our dream is to see every baby reach his or her first birthday.”