Baby shower to help babies born addicted to opioids

Sharon Walker (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Sharon Walker (Source: WMC Action News 5)

GERMANTOWN, TN (WMC) - A Germantown grandmother is now raising her grandson as her own child, after her son died of a heroin overdose in 2015. It is an all-too familiar story in the Mid-South and across the country, as the nation's opioid epidemic continues.

But now, this grandmother is using her tragedy as a way to help others.

"That baby was saved. Carter was saved, more than once, with Narcan," Sharon Walker said.

Sharon Walker, 55, couldn't have dreamed she'd be raising her 2-year-old grandson Carter. Walker and her husband adopted him right after he was born in October of 2015. Carter's mother was hooked on drugs during the pregnancy.

"That's how they found out she was pregnant, when they had overdosed together," Walker said.

But the hardships would continue. Her son Ryan, Carter's father, died of a heroin overdose two months after his son was born.

Ryan washed windows high above Memphis. WMC Action News 5 even ran a story about him dressing up for Halloween to wash windows at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

"My goal is to help the mothers still struggling with the addiction, or the grandparents or the foster parents who may be caring for that baby because the mother couldn't," she said.

Sharon turned her heartache into heartfelt passion, starting a non-profit called Remembering Ryan and teaming up with another group in Memphis called Treasured 901.

The team is collecting baby supplies for a shower next weekend to help families of infants addicted to opioids.

Sharon takes the bags to neonatal intensive care units around the city to hand out.

"I hear so many other moms in my position say if they could just help one person it makes it a little easier," she said, "We couldn't save our own children, but if we could help one other, it helps."

Carter faces multiple health issues, through Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, because of his mother's drug use, but Sharon says he's making great progress.

Her heart is still heavy over the loss of her son, but for Sharon showing love to others is the most gratifying way to cope.

"I think every baby needs to be celebrated," she said.

That baby shower will be held next Saturday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m at the Tower Center Memphis – a venue atop Clark Tower in East Memphis. Your donations are welcome.

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