For one family, this year’s Super Bowl is a reminder of the lasting power of love — and a chance to help other parents devastated by pregnancy loss.
Heather Glennon’s son Travis died in utero just before his birth, when she was 38 weeks pregnant. Since then, she has had four miscarriages. Every year, the St. Louis family raises money for pregnancy loss support groups with a fundraiser that honors Travis and his namesake, Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce.
Heather's pregnancy was totally normal, with no complications. He would be a little brother to their son Jameson, now 5, and the final puzzle piece for their family. Around the time they were brainstorming names, they happened to be watching football, and her husband Sam, a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan, yelled at the television to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, “Go Travis, go Travis, go!”
Then Sam turned to Heather and said, “Do you like that name for a boy?”
Heather tilted her head to the side and thought. “Yes. Yes, I do!” she replied.
From then on, little brother's name was Travis.
The morning Travis was born, Heather had a bad feeling because she hadn’t felt any movement for hours. Reluctantly, she called her doctor.
“It was one of those things where I felt like I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t want to know what the outcome was, but I kind of felt like I knew,” she said.
Her premonition was right. Travis had died due to an umbilical cord accident. There was no heartbeat, no way to save him. She labored and gave birth to her son, and said goodbye in the hospital.
After Travis’s death, Heather and Sam started attending support groups through Share, the national pregnancy and infant loss support organization. Heather remembers they went around the room and everyone told their story, and then the group leader would ask questions — she doesn’t necessarily remember what was said, but she remembers how it made her feel.
“At times there were a lot of blank stares and silence, and more of a feeling and sense of knowing everyone in the room had the same heartbreak you did,” she said. Talking about their loss seems to help, Heather said. “I have met some great people that share the same tragedy, through a club no one wishes to ever be a part of, but we are thankful for those friendships.”
As they grieved together, Heather and Sam thought about how they could remember Travis and possibly make something good come out of their tragedy. Their thoughts turned to his name inspiration, and Touchdowns for Travis was born.
Travis Kelce is a star in the NFL — he and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle are considered the best tight ends in the league, and their Super Bowl matchup is hotly anticipated. Kelce holds the record for the most receiving yards by a tight end in the first seven years of his career. (He even had a reality TV dating show in 2016 called “Catching Kelce.” He picked a contestant named Maya, but they later broke up.)
People can contribute in different ways to the fundraiser. They can give a lump sum, or they can pledge a certain amount for every touchdown Kelce scores, or they can pledge a donation for every time any Chiefs tight end scores a touchdown. So far, Heather Glennon says, Touchdowns for Travis has raised about $9,000 for Share pregnancy and infant loss support.
Heather and Sam Glennon are still trying to have another child. Heather has experienced four miscarriages since losing Travis. They’re also looking into adoption. No matter what happens, they say, Travis will always be part of their family.
After his death, Heather had a wooden heart made with Travis’s name engraved on it. A professional photographer herself, she includes the heart in every family photo. On a recent family vacation to Florida, she knew she wanted to take photos, so she packed the heart. She is planning to start a nonprofit organization to give similar keepsakes to other families who have lost a child, because she knows how important it is to her. “It gives me a sense of letting others know that we did have another kid,” she said. “To me, it’s a big deal.”
This Sunday, the Glennons will be in Miami to cheer on their beloved Kansas City Chiefs against the 49ers. They don’t have Super Bowl tickets, they just wanted to go and be part of the excitement of the crowd. And they know that, as always, Travis is with them.