Posted Online: July 07, 2013, 12:26 am

Drew's Faithful Feet covers infants in new swaddling clothes

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By Claudia Loucks, cjloucks@qconline.com

Photo: Claudia Loucks / correspondent
Hayden Schaaf, 5, left, Devon Schaaf with daughter, Reese, 2, and Dan Schaaf holding son, Connor, 6 months, will be at this year’s "Drew’s Faithful Feet" run/walk event Saturday, July 13, at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church, Geneseo. The event is named in memory of Drew Schaaf, shown in the photograph on the table at right, who died 2 1/2 weeks after his birth in July 2010.
GENESEO – Safer swaddling clothes than Jesus wore in the manger can help parents keep their new little angels more stable and secure.

Incorrect swaddling can be a health threat, according to Dan and Devon Schaaf, of Geneseo, parents of three young children, and another son, Drew, who died in July 2010, when he was only 2 1/2 weeks old.

Proceeds raised from a "Drew's Faithful Feet" run/walk, named in their baby's memory, to be held Saturday, July 13, will help buy infant "sleep sacks."

These sleep sacks have fabric flaps that swaddle the baby's arms to the body and close securely, Mrs. Schaaf said. They make swaddling safer and easier by giving babies a secure feeling and freedom of leg movement without dangers of loose fabrics around the head.

Blankets that are too loose can unwind and hinder breathing, she said. Blankets that are too tight can cause serious hip problems.

"Area hospitals are now providing sleep sacks for new babies during their stay at the hospital," Mrs. Schaaf said.

Helping parents avoid the tragedy of losing a child has become her and her husband's mission in life.

"Our beloved baby passed away in his daddy's arms the morning of July 11, 2010," Mrs. Schaaf said. "Dan was helping me out on a night shift with Drew, and had taken him into our living room, sat down with him on the couch and accidentally fell asleep. In the middle of the night, Drew shifted and suffocated.

"Our mission from 'Drew's Faithful Feet' is to create an awareness of the dangers of sleeping with an infant," she said.

"Many Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, cases are linked to unsafe sleep environments," she said, adding that there is a new awareness in regard to infant deaths classified as accidental suffocation.

Warnings against using loose crib blankets were listed inthe American Academy of Pediatrics' 2011 guidelines, and are part of an expanded 'Safe to Sleep' program sponsored, in part, by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, she said.

The benefit run is a familiar vehicle for the Schaafs. Mrs. Schaaf helped organize the first event in 2010 when it was just called "Faithful Feet."

That first race was Drew's first outing, and he ''was the center of attention," she said. "He was just days old and many people -- adults and kids -- came to peek at him tucked away in my body swing."

Drew died a week later. The event, sponsored by the Faith, Fellowship and Service Group at St. Malachy's Catholic Church, Geneseo,has been renamed in his memory.

Drew'sfootprints also serve as the event's symbol: They are imprinted on race T-shirts.

The event will feature a 5K run, a one-half mile kid's run, a 200-yard kid's dash, family activities, entertainment, including live music and face painting, and refreshments for race participants.

Awards will be presented and winners of each age group will receive a free three-month pass to Snap Fitness in Geneseo.

Register online at getmeregistered.com/FaithfulFeet or print a paper registration form from the faithfulfeet.org website.