2024 SUDC Community Retreat Program Registration

Program Overview


3:00PM – 6:00PM – Welcome/Check-In

Our staff and volunteers will be stationed at the check-in table to greet you and provide essential information and welcome supplies. This is an opportunity to get acquainted with the day’s agenda, receive any materials needed, and start connecting with other attendees.

Program registration not required. 

4:30PM – 5:30PM – Teen Ambassador Program Launch

Join us for the launch of our Teen Ambassador Program with Ghazala Siddiqui, LPN, Community Education and Outreach Coordinator. This session is designed to introduce the Teen Ambassador Program, a branch of the SUDC Foundation’s Ambassador Program for young people ages 13-17 years old to participate in raising awareness and supporting the SUDC Foundation’s mission. Learn how to become a Teen Ambassador, the benefits of joining, and how you can make a difference in our community.

6:00PM – 8:00PM – Welcoming Reception

This cocktail-style reception features light refreshments and entertainment. It is a wonderful occasion to welcome our families, board members, staff, and key volunteers. Enjoy introductions, engaging ice breakers, and a relaxed atmosphere perfect for fostering new connections and friendships.

Program registration not required. 

8:00PM – Dads’ Night

Join us for a laid-back evening designed just for dads. Dads’ Night offers a relaxed setting to connect and share with other fathers who understand your journey. Enjoy engaging activities, including lawn games and casual conversations. Our dedicated Peer Connection dads will be on hand to lead and support, providing a comforting and understanding presence. Light refreshments will be provided. This is a wonderful opportunity to unwind, build friendships, and find solace in a supportive community.


Memorial Craft & Banner All Day

Drop in any time between 9:00AM and 4:00PM to participate in our Memorial Craft and Banner activity. Create a personalized memorial craft to be displayed during Saturday’s ceremony, or add your message to our communal banner. Light refreshments will be available, so feel free to grab a drink, relax, and connect with others. Our staff and volunteers will be present throughout the day to assist and provide support.

Program registration not required. 

8:15AM Breakfast – Group Seating

10:15AM – 11:30AM – Parent Panel

Join us for the SUDC Foundation Community Retreat Parent Panel, where SUDC Ambassador, Peer Friend and mother to Haley, Suzanne Tom will lead a diverse group of SUDC parents in a meaningful discussion on finding life after loss. They will share their journeys through grief, exploring how it evolves over time, and coping with these changes. This panel aims to offer support, insights, and hope to all attendees

10:00AM – 12:00PM – Kids Fun Activities X3

10AM – Magic Show 
Experience the wonder of magic with a fun and interactive show designed to captivate and entertain kids of all ages. Prepare to be amazed by astounding tricks and illusions with Marty the Magician! 

11AM – Karate Workshop 
Join us for an exciting karate class where kids can learn basic moves and techniques in a safe and supportive environment. This session is perfect for all skill levels and focuses on building confidence and discipline. 

10AM & 12PM Crafts – Rock Painting & Bracelet making  
Get creative with our engaging craft activities! Kids can express their artistic side with rock painting and bracelet making. These hands-on projects are great for sparking imagination and creating memorable keepsakes. 

Learn More About Marty

Don’t miss our exciting appearance by “Marty the Magician,” the Ozark’s favorite family entertainer. Marty promises to bring loads of amazing magic tricks, along with non-stop laughter and lots of audience participation! And, as a special bonus, Marty will provide special materials to teach all the children a few tricks that they can do. We guarantee once you see it, you still won’t believe it!

Learn More About Ron & Ty

Don’t miss our exciting appearance by Ronald Leach & Ty Borich from Branson Karate. Ronald is a 10th degree black belt in Seiyo-No Shorin-Ryu Karate and has mastered many different martial art styles over the last 40 years. Ty Borich is a 1st degree black belt in Seiyo-No Shorin-Ryu Karate and has studied martial arts for over 14 years now. 

12:00PM – Free Time/Lunch On Your Own

1:15PM – Making a Self-Care Plan Workshop

Join Manager of Family Services, Amanda Brindle, LSW for an insightful and interactive workshop on creating a personalized self-care plan. This session will guide you through the essential steps to prioritize your well-being, manage stress, and incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Learn practical strategies, set achievable goals, and leave with a tailored plan to nurture your mental and emotional health. This workshop is a valuable opportunity to invest in yourself and enhance your overall wellness.

1:15PM – Grandparents Gathering

Join Chairman of the Board, Bobby Jenkins, and Director of Development, Liz Milliken for a heartfelt and casual conversation designed specifically for grandparents. This supportive session will focus on discussing the grief journey, sharing experiences, and exploring ways to support each other and their families. It’s an opportunity to connect with others who understand the unique perspectives, and challenges of being a bereaved grandparent. Light refreshments will be provided, making it a comforting and welcoming environment. We hope you’ll join us for this meaningful and supportive gathering.

2:15PM – 4:15PM – Interactive Event with Therapy Dogs from the Pet Therapy of the Ozarks, Springfield, Missouri

Experience the calming benefits by interacting with certified therapy dogs from the Pet Therapy of the Ozarks, a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to bringing joy and smiles to the community one paw at a time. This session offers a unique opportunity to meet these wonderful four-legged friends and experience firsthand the positive impact they have on our emotional well-being.

Note: Adult supervision is required for minors attending this event.

2:15PM – Unstructured Community – All Ages- Boats, Pool, Hiking, Tennis & Pickleball

Enjoy a leisurely afternoon with our unstructured community session, open to all ages. Dive into the pool, explore the trails, paddle around in non-motorized boats reserved just for you, or get active with a game of tennis or pickleball. Whether you’re looking to relax, have fun with family, or meet new friends, this activity offers a perfect blend of freedom and community spirit.

Program registration not required. 

6:00PM – Dinner

Program registration not required. 

7:30PM – Movie Night

While moms enjoy their time together, the rest of the family can join us for a cozy movie night in front of the big screen. We’ll provide movie snacks and beverages for everyone to enjoy.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. 

7:30PM – Teen Night

Siblings, age 13 and up are invited for a fun and relating Teen Night! Gather around cozy fire pits, make delicious s’mores, and enjoy friendly games of cornhole.

It’s the perfect evening to connect with friends and make new ones, in a supervised yet independent social environment designed especially for our older SUDC siblings.

Ages 13+

7:45PM – Moms’ Night

Join us for an evening dedicated to moms, where you will have the opportunity to create keepsake Pandora inspired memorial bracelets in honor of your child. This special activity provides a meaningful way to remember and cherish your loved one while connecting with other moms who share a similar journey. Light refreshments will be available, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for conversation and support. This is a time to come together, share stories, and find comfort in a compassionate community.


Memorial Craft & Banner All Day

Drop in any time between 9:00AM and 4:00PM to participate in our Memorial Craft and Banner activity. Create a personalized memorial craft to be displayed during Saturday evening’s ceremony, or add your message to our communal banner. Light refreshments will be available, so feel free to grab a drink, relax, and connect with others. Our staff and volunteers will be present throughout the day to assist and provide support.

Program registration not required. 

8:15AM – Breakfast

Program registration not required. 

9:15AM – 12:00PM – Sibling Grief Workshops for ages 4-7, 8-12, and 13+ years old

9:15AM – 10:00AM – 4-7
Designed for children aged 4-7, this session offers age-appropriate activities to explore feelings of loss and connection. Participants can engage in storytelling with “The Invisible String,” express emotions through movement and art, and create a tangible hug activity. Facilitators encourage a supportive environment where children can share at their comfort level.


10:10AM- 10:55AM – 8-12
Geared towards children aged 8-12, this session focuses on processing grief through creative and expressive activities. Participants have the opportunity to release tension through writing and tearing paper, explore their emotions with self-expression art, and depict their journey using sand art. The session promotes individual reflection and fosters a sense of community through shared activities.


11:00AM – 11:45AM – 13+ 
Tailored for teens aged 13 and older, this session provides tools for navigating the grief journey. Activities include creating a roadmap of their grief stages and contributing to a collective grief journey map. Participants are encouraged to explore and express their emotions in a safe and supportive space, fostering understanding and connection among peers.

Learn About Rana Post, MBA, CCLS, CPST

Rana Post, MBA, CCLS, CPST, has been a Certified Child Life Specialist and the Coordinator of the CoxHealth Child Life team since 1998.  She graduated with her bachelor's in human development and family studies from the University of MO - Columbia in 1997 and also has her MBA in Healthcare Administration from William Woods in Fulton, MO.  Rana supervises and organizes the volunteers, practicum students and interns during their experiences as well as the clinical lab experience that is affiliated with Missouri State University.  In the hospital setting, her team supports children and families that are experiencing grief and bereavement. 

Learn About Melissa Schotthofer, Ph.D., CCLS

Melissa Schotthofer, Ph.D., CCLS
Melissa has been a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2005. She completed her undergraduate work in Elementary Education at The University of Wisconsin-River Falls, her master's degree in human development and family studies with a child life emphasis at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and her doctoral degree in psychology at Grand Canyon University. Melissa’s child life career
began at the University of Rochester Medical Center as a CCLS in the emergency department and in the outpatient hematology-oncology clinic. Upon obtaining her master’s degree, Melissa transitioned into academia. Melissa is a Clinical Assistant Professor and academic advisor in the undergraduate child life program at Missouri State University. Melissa began serving as an item writer for the Child Life Certification Commission in 2015 and chaired that committee from 2019-2021. Since then, Melissa has also served on the recertification audit committee and the appeals committee for the Child Life Certification Commission.

Learn About Ashton Hodge, MS, CCLS

Ashton has her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies and her Master’s Degree in Child Life. She is a Certified Child Life Specialist and is currently working as a CCLS and Forensic Interviewer at the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield, MO. At the CAC Ashton helps foster a child friendly environment for children and families who may have experienced abuse. Ashton also works at Lost & Found Grief Center where she leads a grief group for children ages 4-18, helping children understand grief and walk alongside them during their grief journey. Ashton is a committee member of the ACLP Child Life in the Community Setting Committee, working to spread awareness and improve child life throughout our local communities.  Ashton has many diverse experiences working with children to help empower them and teach them how to cope and gain resilience through each season of life.

11:00AM – 12:00PM – Children’s Story Hour

Join us for the Children’s Story Hour from 11:00AM to 12:00PM for a comforting exploration of grief themes through age-appropriate books. Led by caring staff and SUDC volunteers, this session encourages children aged 12 and under to engage in guided readings and discussions. Through interactive activities, they can express emotions, share experiences, and discover coping strategies in a supportive environment. Join us to foster empathy, build resilience, and find solace together in understanding grief.

9:15AM – 10:00AM – How to Honor Your Child’s Memory Workshop

Join us for an insightful workshop led by Liz Milliken, Director of Development, where we will explore the strategies and considerations involved with establishing a 501c3 charity or hosting a community-wide fundraising event in memory of your beloved child. Whether you plan to establish your own charity or simply want to bring your community together to pay tribute to your child, this workshop will provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

10:15AM – 11:00AM – Peer Connections Program Information and Training Workshop

Join Manager of Family Services, Amanda Brindle, LSW for an informative session on our Peer Connections Program, where you can learn about the structure, purpose, and benefits of connecting with others who understand your experiences and challenges. Whether you’re seeking guidance, camaraderie, or simply a listening ear, this training session is here for you.

11:15AM – 12:00PM – Ambassador Program Information and Training Workshop

Discover the SUDC Foundation’s Ambassador Program in this comprehensive information and training session led by Ghazala Siddiqui, LPN, Community Education and Outreach CoordinatorLearn how to effectively represent our organization, raise awareness, and engage with communities to drive positive change. This session is ideal for those eager to become ambassadors for our cause and make a difference in the lives of others.

12:00PM – Lunch & Keynote Speaker Session

Join us for a nourishing lunch followed by an inspiring Keynote address by Kelly Cervantes, an award-winning writer, speaker, and advocate. Kelly is the author of “Normal Broken”: The grief companion for when it’s time to heal but you’re not sure you want to. In her Keynote, Kelly will share her personal journey of grief and healing, emphasizing the importance of community and self-acceptance in the healing process. Her message resonates deeply with those navigating the complexities of grief and offers hope and encouragement for the journey ahead.

Program registration not required. 

Learn About Our Keynote

Kelly Cervantes

Award-Winning Writer, Speaker, and Advocate

Author of “Normal Broken”: The grief companion for when it’s time to heal but you’re not sure you want to

After my daughter died, I no longer felt like I fit into my established social circles. Even in my family, we were all grieving so differently, I often felt out of place. It wasn’t until I connected with other mothers who had also lost children that I was able to find some normal in my brokenness. The community we surround ourselves with is integral to our healing process. To get the most out of this community, we must leave our tendencies to compare our grief behind. Only then can we grow into our new selves, allow our grief and joy to cohabitate within us, and survive our new normals. 

Order your copy of "Normal Broken" today!

1:00PM – Book Signing with Kelly Cervantes

After the Keynote, join Kelly Cervantes for a book signing session. This is an opportunity to meet the author, get your copy of “Normal Broken” signed, and engage in meaningful conversations about grief, healing, and finding strength in community. Kelly’s insights and compassionate perspective are sure to leave a lasting impact on all who attend. Books will be available for purchase.


3:00PM – Family Line Dancing

Get ready to kick up your heels and have some fun with Family Line Dancing! This lively session is perfect for all ages and skill levels. Join us on the dance floor to learn some classic line dances, enjoy great music, and create joyful memories together.


Learn About Our Instructors, Kathy Brazeal & Laurie Jones

Kathy Brazeal (left)

As a retired pediatric nurse with over two decades of experience in caring for children, Kathy Brazeal had the privilege of bringing joy and comfort to countless young lives. After dedicating her career to the healthcare industry, She has now turned her attention to sharing her passion for dance with others. For the past 10 years, She has been teaching line dance to students of all ages and skill levels, spreading the joy and energy of this lively and social style of dance. As a nurse, she learned the importance of patience, compassion, and attention to detail, skills that have served her well in her dance instruction. Her classes are designed to be fun, engaging, and supportive, where students can feel at ease and confident in their ability to learn.  She is thrilled to bring her dual passions together - healthcare and dance - to create an unforgettable experience for her students.

Laurie Jones (Right)

Laurie Jones, a passionate line dance instructor, resides in the serene landscapes of North Arkansas, where she has a passion for spreading the joy of dance. With excitement, energy and a deep love for music, Laurie teaches line dancing at various locations across Arkansas and Missouri, leaving a trail of rhythm and smiles wherever she goes. Laurie's classes are not just about steps; they are vibrant gatherings where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to connect through dance. Her warm demeanor and patient teaching style create an inviting atmosphere, making even the most hesitant dancers feel at ease. Students leave her classes not only with improved dance skills but also with a renewed sense of community and belonging.

3:00PM – Journaling Workshop

Discover the power of writing in our Journaling Workshop led by Manager of Family Services, Amanda Brindle, LSW. This session will guide you through techniques and prompts to help express your thoughts and emotions on paper. Whether you’re new to journaling or have been writing for years, this workshop offers a supportive space to explore and reflect.

6:00PM – Dinner

Program registration not required. 

7:00PM – Memorial Service

Join us for a poignant Memorial Service, illuminated by a Memorial of Lights, as we gather to honor and cherish the memories of our loved ones. During this service, we will feature the crafts made during the weekend as a tribute to our cherished memories together.

Program registration not required. 

After Memorial Service – Post Memorial Ice-Cream Party

Following the Memorial Service, we will have a Post Memorial Ice-Cream Party to continue honoring the memories of our loved ones. This party offers a chance to come together, share stories, and find joy and comfort in the strength of our community.

Program registration not required. 


8:15AM – Breakfast

*End of Community Retreat

Program Registration Form

Main Registrant Information

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Photo & Video Waiver

By submitting this form and participating in the SUDC Foundation's 2024 Community Retreat, I grant permission for photographs and video recordings of myself and other family attendees, including legally dependent minors, to be taken and used by the SUDC Foundation. I waive any right to royalties or other compensation arising from or related to the use of the images, recordings, or materials.
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