If you haven’t heard, we are having a party on Monday the 18th to benefit two very worthy charities. We are going to split the proceeds from the event 50/50 between the Leukemia & Lymphoma Societyand The Children’s Hospital. I’d like to tell you a bit about why we are supporting the Children’s Hospital.
I am the proud father of three beautiful little children, a four year old daughter and twin two year old boys. All three had a pretty rough start, each spending weeks in a hospital newborn intensive care unit (NICU). Of course we have a huge debt of gratitude to the doctors & nurses who provided their care, but also to the generous people who funded the facilities and research that made their care possible.
Our first encounter with a NICU came on January 2nd, 2004. My wife was 34 weeks pregnant when her water broke on New Year’s Eve. We had no indication that there was any reason to worry before that; in fact, my wife had just seen her doctor and everything was fine. My daughter was born late in the day on the 1st and we were told that she would probably be OK – 6 weeks premature is not considered extremely early and she was big (5 ½ lbs.) for her gestational age. The only clear problem was that her breathing was labored and difficult. As the night wore on, Lauren’s breathing problems were not getting better so the doctor recommended transporting her to the local NICU. One of my clearest memories from the night was that my first decision as a father was to sign the paper transferring her over to the hospital downtown.
As it turned out, Lauren was sicker than anyone at the local hospital thought. She was born with pneumonia and ended up spending 18 days in the hospital. In the first few days of her stay a high-level NICU nurse monitored her constantly to control her blood pressure. After almost 3 weeks, we were able to take her home. The picture below is a picture of my wife, Karla and my daughter, Lauren, on the day that Lauren was born.
Almost 2 years later, my wife was pregnant again, this time with twin boys. She was hospitalized at about 32 weeks (about 2 months before the boys’ due date) when it became clear that she may go into pre-term labor again. After two days, Mark and JJ were born. They were delivered by emergency c-section and whisked out of the operating room into the waiting hands of doctors who took them to the NICU. It was clear from the beginning that Mark was in bad shape.
We found out later that he was born with e.Coli meningitis and barely made it through his first night. The nurse on duty told us later that they came very close to calling us in so that we could say goodbye to him that night. Things didn’t get easier for Mark over the first few weeks of his life. He was on a ventilator for the first week. He then developed a brain hemorrhage that got progressively worse, finally becoming a grade 3 bilateral IVH (for those doctors who might be reading). For those who aren’t doctors, I’ll just say that it that was pretty bad news. The staff were preparing us to deal with Mark being severely handicapped and never walking or talking. And, it took weeks before he was stable and getting better instead of worse.
The pictures below show Mark & JJ in the NICU.
The next few months were long ones, with our 2 year old daughter at home and a 45 minute drive to the hospital to visit the boys. But we were happy to take JJ home after six weeks and then take Mark home a few weeks later. Mark was still on a feeding tube when we brought him home and we had no idea what to expect, but we believe in hoping for the best and being prepared for anything. Amazingly, he just kept getting better and better. He had to have major eye surgery and he’s a little behind on talking, but he’s a really physical little boy who loves to run, jump and climb. As you can see below, he also likes to smile for the camera.
I want to be completely clear that this is a story of good fortune, not bad. We had the amazing good fortune of having our children in a place and time where the services were available not just to save their lives, but to give them a chance at making a full and complete recovery. We had wonderful doctors and nurses and a health insurance plan that took most of the financial burden off of us. And now, we three fantastic little kids who are all doing great. We feel incredibly lucky that everything worked out so well for our family.
The happy picture below is what my kids look like today.
I love that the internet marketing community is now taking the opportunity to help sick children and their parents. The Children’s Hospital has a number of amazing initiatives to do just that. One project that is close to my heart is the NICU they are building at their new hospital here in Colorado. What I particularly love is that they are not just focused on the purely medical part of the facility, but that they are also giving equal attention to what they call their “enhanced family environment.” Having a sick baby (or more than one baby) in the hospital is one of the most difficult things many families will ever face. The Children’s Hospital is making a tremendous effort to make this difficult time easier. Let me quote from their description of the new NICU:
Close to the front entrance, the new unit also includes three private consult rooms where doctors can speak with families. These rooms were carefully and sensitively placed so that when a family receives bad news about their baby’s condition, they can leave the unit quickly at a very emotional time without walking past other babies, families and staff. One of these consult rooms is equipped with necessities that allow it to be used as a hospice room. A grieving family can quietly leave the unit with a maximum amount of privacy.
Not everyone has the kind of good fortune we had – I can only imagine how much we would have appreciated this had things turned out differently for Mark.
So, here’s the deal. Todd Malicoat & Lauren Vaccarello have put together a wonderful event, with some of the most talented internet marketers in attendance. Half of all of the money we generate from his event goes to the Children’s Hospital. Our Sponsors (WeBuildPages, ACS, Best of the Web, and SureHits) are covering 100% of the costs of the event and then some, so every single dollar you donate goes to the charities. And, to shamelessly steal a successful fundraising trick from NPR – Karla & I will personally match the contribution that the IM Charity Party makes to the Children’s Hospital. So, please come to our charity party, and know that your money is getting multiplied and is going to two great causes. We look forward to seeing you there!
Jon Kelly is the VP, Insurance, at SureHits.