Sophia's Smile 5K in Medina providing comfort to grieving families

The loss of a child is something no parent should face.

A Medina County family has turned their personal tragedy into an opportunity to bring support to other grieving families.

Sophia Miller was 2-years-old when she died in 2012. 

"She loved the farm," said Alicia Hornbeck, Sophia's mom. "We have the beef cattle, and she always came out with us and helped with chores."

The family named the farm "Angel Acres" after Sophia's sudden death. 

"She was very close with her brothers and very bossy," Hornbeck said. "And they would do whatever it is she wanted."

A family friend didn't see her playing ball in the yard and accidentally hit her while leaving the driveway. 

Forgiveness was always there but Hornbeck said it doesn't take away heartache. 

"I don't want anybody to forget who she is- who she was," Hornbeck said. "Doing the 5K race and the 1-mile walk was very important, because it was something that we did as a family. We ran (were) always at track meets and cross country meets."

MEDINA, OH (WOIO) - It's called Sophia's Smile. On Saturday, May 6, more than 100 people are expected at Buckeye Woods Park in Medina. The race starts at 9 a.m. Onsite registration is available and begins at 7:30 a.m. The cost of the race is $30.

Finding a name for the race and non-profit setup in Sophia's name didn't take long.

"We would go a lot of places and people would say to us, 'I was having a bad day and she made me smile'," Hornbeck said. "And I just felt like this is Sophia smiling down helping other families."

Money raised goes to families who may have trouble buying a headstone of their liking. It's an expense many aren't prepared for especially with the sudden loss of a child.

While at Akron Children's, they learned that small plaques are offered to families who can't afford a headstone. Hornbeck knew at that moment she wanted to make a difference.

"Some of the families like to put the picture of their child or a saying, and I just want a family to be able to go to their resting place and have something they like," Hornbeck said.

Sophia's Smile has helped close to a dozen families over the years.

"It is healing," Hornbeck said. "I love helping people, and I just felt like it was very important to give back."

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