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A letter to our Supporters, Sponsors, Affiliates, and Jensen’s Heart of Gold Families :

I write to you today with a heavy heart and the decision to go public with this announcement that has been weighing on me for at least two years now.  It has not come to fruition lightly.  Please bear with me and take a moment to read the words, process my intentions, and hopefully continue to support me in my personal journey of growth and healing.

The start and finish of JHG

It’s not uncommon for parents to start some initiative after losing a child.  There is this extreme pull to want to have your child remembered.  I personally believe it is because of the fear of those closest to you forgetting your child or at minimum being too afraid to talk about them.  I also feel it is a way to make sure that your child’s life mattered and was not lived in vain.  Losing a child strips you of all control.  Your inherent instinct is to protect them and knowing that you couldn’t is a hard pill to swallow.  These things and more led me to the creation of Jensen’s Heart of Gold  and the Super Slugger Tournament.

 

It started as a way for me to heal, to make a difference, to share Jensen with the world and to relive my last and greatest memory with him.  In doing so, being able to support and assist other families was a bonus.  Throughout the years, as the event grew, it became more about competition for most and more about raising more money and helping more kids.  That is definitely not a bad thing, yet a way to process through the stages of grief.  From denial to anger and then to bargaining in hopes that others did not have to suffer the way that we all did as a family.  It became more of a business and a damn good one.  It also began to show people that although he only lived 5 short years, he touched more lives and did more good than many do in an entire lifetime.  That had me on the highest of highs!

 

At some point, presumably as part of the stages of grief, it became a source of stress.  More so a source of depression and guilt that I was not doing enough, that I needed to do more.  I never wanted to have to turn any family in need away and although I didn’t, I never felt like the amounts given were enough to make a big impact.  It sent me back through all of the previous stages of grief over and over again.  The constant bickering and complaining of the competitors, the inability to make everyone happy, the drifting remembrance of why they were there in the first place, it became overwhelming.  I wanted to stop at year 10.  I didn’t because of the guilt of feeling selfish and giving up on those that need me.  It led me to two more years of cycling through the grieving process.

 

After many life changes, and reflecting on past traumas, I really started to feel the weight of it all.  I have certainly been knocked down many times and although I always get back up, it was getting harder and harder and taking longer and longer.  Though I was healing, I could never really lessen the weight on my shoulders.  I have been constantly  dragged down by the weight of the past.  It has made it really hard to move forward.  While I never want to or will be able to forget the past, it has made me who I am, I cannot remain stuck drawing from past experiences and letting that shape who I am to become in the future.  

 

I likely will never achieve the final stage of grief, acceptance, but rather than fighting to understand why or to make the past have some prolific meaning, I can certainly allow it to help me to continue to grow and heal.  I need to focus on me for a change and even writing that makes me feel guilty, feel selfish.  I know that in order to better serve others, I have to first serve myself and my needs.  It is for all of these reasons, I will be dissolving the Jensen’s Heart of Gold  501c3 and terminating the Super Slugger Softball Tournament.  

 

All of those that have paid your registration fee for 2023 will be refunded.  The remaining funds will be dispersed per our mission and I can only hope the memories will continue to be spoken of for many decades to come!  I am proud of my team and I have no doubt it will go down as the best ran tournament in the South, maybe even the nation!!  You all know what I say, “it’s because it was ran by women :)”

 

This entire journey, my ability to see a brighter light, to laugh, to love, to live again has all been made possible by each and every one of you involved in Jensen’s Heart of Gold.  Whether it be just saying his name or sharing a post, donating time or money, participating in the events, or just simply being there, you have made a difference and I will eternally be grateful.

 

For my Florida supporters, keep your eyes out for upcoming info on the transition to an affiliate program and new organization with a more vast mission in memory of our beloved Morgan Pierce.  Emily and Clint will continue to serve their community in a big way and we will continue to support them in all ways possible.  

 

For our Jensen’s Heart of Gold  families, please know that I will forever have a special place for you all and though I may not be fundraising, I will still be available for any questions or support you need.  Feel free to reach out to me anytime.  It has been the greatest privilege to serve you all!

 

 

With the utmost love and respect,

 

Melissa Byrd