Transforming Lives in the Holidays and 2020 New Year

Transforming Lives in the Holidays and 2020 New Year

What’s the best way to get the most enjoyment from the Christmas season? For some, it’s all about the presents. For others, it’s about spending time with loved ones. And if you’re anything like me, then it will be (at least slightly) about the break from routine pressures. But do any of these things capture the true pinnacle holiday enjoyment?

It does my heart well to send loved ones special greetings. And I can’t say I don’t take pleasure in getting a gift of two (or three). And having those precious extra moments to reflect mean the world to me, but my focus during Christmas and New Years isn’t to slack off but to capture opportunity. Of a truth, it’s a tradition for The Gift of Life team. 

Because getting the most enjoyment out of the holiday season means to get down to it’s true meaning. It’s more than get-togethers and gifts. It’s more than well wishing. The holidays are about doing as much as you can to fill as much of the world with love as you can. 

It’s about letting that love from others flow through you (especially if you’re prone to be a grump). It’s about being a source of love for those who need to be filled up. It’s about allowing yourself, even if you have to expend precious energy, to serve as an integral part of the outpouring and overflow. 

The holiday season is always a busy time at The Gift of Life. This year is no different. In fact, it may prove one of the busiest Christmas and New Year seasons we’ve seen yet. Though many get overwhelmed this time of year, we find the rush is inspiring as we look forward to achieving great things in 2020. 

Our annual Christmas teddy bear and preemie hat delivery to the NICU was a grand success. As for me, it was my first visit there. Now though for me, as mentioned, I tend to go into isolation and reflection mode around this time of year, I don’t think any greater insight could’ve been bestowed upon me than that which I found right there in the NICU. 

Of all people, it was the receptionist that did it, as she was checking my ID and taking my picture for the visitor badge. We had just brought in all the gift bags and sat them around the large Christmas tree. The receptionist was in near tears. 

“You see that rack behind me?” she said, “oh it’s always full with toy donations for the children… Nothing for the preemies, though. Rarely does anything ever goes to that side.”

“So what we do is needed?” I asked, shocked. 

“Very much.”

Normally, when I tell people about The Gift of Life and who I am in the organization and what we do they don’t cry


Many don’t show any emotional response at all because they can’t relate. When someone’s life has been touched by premature birth, I can often tell before they speak up because of their response to our mission

She didn’t tell me, but I’ll bet the receptionist has seen countless preemies and their families and come to know their stories. She’s one of us; a person with a heart for the tiniest of us all and those that love them. 

Have you ever held a baby that could fit in the palm of your hand? Have you ever seen one up close – tubes and tape and all? I was given one of their diapers as a souvenir. 

And while we were there we were able to introduce ourselves to a few of the preemie parents. All of them were exhausted. All welcomed our visit. 

Like the receptionist and other hospital staff, like the much-needed smiles we inspired on the preemie parents’ faces that day, I’m thankful for The Gift of Life. 

I’m thankful for the blessing of the opportunity and ability to extend love in a much needed area, to a group that often goes overlooked, especially during the holidays. 

It was the experience of the isolation and need in the NICU that inspired Rosie and Marcus Moore to found our organization. And, however ironically fitting, Christmas season around here kicks off with Rosie’s birthday. 

Happy Birthday Rosie! 

And Rosie always asks for the perfect present. In fact, you can always send her the perfect present because her birthday gift request is always the same: support for The Gift of Life

As Rosie most-notably always says, “Remember to dream because dreams do come true”. 

And I say, “One person can make a difference” (though I think she said it first). Rosie proves every day what one person can do. 

Since founding The Gift of Life, Rosie has become an author, speaker, mentor (especially to me), beauty queen, pageant coach, doula, and nurse consultant. She was already a mother, wedding planner, and passionate tap dancer. I, like many, am proud to call her friend. 

And I have to confess we had a spectacular time celebrating her birthday this year. 

How will You Transform Lives in 2020?

You can expect a lot of great things to be going on at The Gift of Life this year. Our goal is to raise the funds we need to both continue and expand our outreach operations. To this end, we’ve got a lot of great events planned for the soon-upon-us year. The biggest being our Black Tie Gala that’s set to take place at the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort. 

You’re going to be there, right?

Join us!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Gift of Life’s team

Miracle Kaleb Turns 10!

Miracle Kaleb Turns 10!

All life is a miracle. The lives of some miracles become major sources of inspiration that results in the creation of new things and has a positive impact on the world. Kaleb Moore’s life is one such source.

It was 10 years ago today that Kaleb was born. At birth, he weighed only 1lb. 10 oz. His outlook was bleak – at least according to the doctors who were there. According to their calculations, Kaleb only at a 5 percent chance of survival. His parents, Marcus and Rosie Moore, now founders of The Gift of Life were distraught but hopeful and rested deeply in their faith.

Marcus Moore Preemie MentorKaleb had a trying and emotionally tumultuous six month stay in the NICU. The experience touched the hearts, minds, and spirits of his parents in more ways than just the concern for their son. As it turns out, they weren’t the only parents there. 

Rosie and Marcus Moore witnessed the experiences of many preemies and their parents in the NICU. Regardless of the individual situation of each preemie, every parent there had something in common beyond the fact that their babies were there. All shared a gaping need for support that wasn’t being filled. 

Generally speaking, NICU professionals do their best to provide the parents with emotional support. Many of the NICU staff, however, have never had a preemie of their own. Try as they might and love as they do, they cannot relate as deeply as the parents need. Plus, the staff’s focus has to remain on providing medical care to preemies, not comforting the parents.

And, as Rosie and Marcus soon learned, the unmet needs of the families of preemies are far more than that of a few consoling words and pats on the back. Many of the preemies blessed to graduate from NICU do so with special needs. Often, the special care a premature baby requires will be on-going for as long as they live.

Having a preemie can change a family’s life forever in more ways than if the child was born full term. For starters, the first year cost of having a preemie son or daughter averages $40,000 more than for full-term offspring. Many parents of preemies, moreover, must go through special training just to be able to care for their child. The many doctors visits and demanding routines can wreak havoc on the parent’s ability to produce an income.

Studies show that a shocking 1 in 5 parents of preemies have contemplated suicide. The experience of having a preemie has given many PTSD. And even for those who don’t develop PTSD or become suicidal, the emotional, financial, and physical demands of having a preemie still cause a myriad of mental health issues.

But we love them.

NICU Mothers sitting on a sofa together, holding their babies on their lapsA preemie baby is a baby. Most premature births happen unexpectedly. The majority of expecting parents look forward to the birth of their child and hope, even assume, that he or she will be born healthy and sound. Moms and dads fall in love with their babies before they are born.

And the lives of the preemies who survive the NICU are well worth any sacrifice required to support them and help them develop into their best selves. Preemie are people. As is with all human beings, many enter the world and grow up to do some amazing things. Some of the most well-recognized, notable figures in our society were preemies at birth, including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Sir Issac Newton, Stevie Wonder, Anna Pavlova, Pablo Picasso, and Wilma Rudolph.

And here at The Gift of Life, our notable celebrity preemie is “Miracle” Kaleb Moore. We absolutely love him. We love him not just because he survived. We love him for being the person we know him to be. Kaleb is a confident, outgoing and friendly guy who quickly captivates the hearts of most – despite and often due to his signature rambunctiousness, unmatched energy, and relentless curiosity. 

“Miracle” Kaleb Moore is absolutely spectacular and that’s a fact. 



Kaleb dancing with Elisa Planellas at the Gift of Life's 2019 5K super runIt has been a wonder to watch him grow and we’re so thankful that he is still growing and developing. His life bears witness that medical outcome projections aren’t the final say. To be near Kaleb you can feel his love for life – if you’re willing. One look into his ever-bright eyes that seem to see right through to your soul and you’ll know that Kaleb is on this earth because he wants to be. And that is why I love him. 

Happy 10th Birthday Kaleb!  – From your friend Elisa Planellas, your parents, and The Gift of Life team

As the executive director, I know well that The Gift of Life would not have come about without Kaleb. There are several nonprofits and charities that focus on championing the cause of preemies and addressing the root of premature birth, such as The March of DimesMiracle Babies, Graham’s Foundation, and Project Sweet Peas, The Gift of Life Corporation is aiming to go deeper and further in providing long-term support for the parents of preemies – because that’s what’s needed. 

As a charity founded by preemie parents for preemie parents, we provide a growing list of support services that include but are not limited to care packages, case management, parent mentoring, grief support,  financial support (as available), and NICU baby cuddlers. We serve families throughout the United States and have a small-but-growing  support presence for the families in Africa. As of 2018, we’ve helped more than 4,000 preemie families since starting in 2014. 

If you are a preemie parent or know one, please contact us for support. If you are a member of a similar organization, connect with us for collaborative projects. Business owners who are interested in becoming a corporate sponsor can learn more about our corporate sponsor program at We are also accepting volunteers and welcome individual donors

Thank you for helping us celebrate Miracle Kaleb Moore’s 10th birthday! If you’d like to witness his zesty personality for yourself, consider attending one of our events or joining The Gift of Life team.

Birthday Post: The Gift of Life Team Celebrates Marcus Moore

Birthday Post: The Gift of Life Team Celebrates Marcus Moore

Birthday Post: The Gift of Life Team Celebrates Marcus Moore

The time has come for another birthday celebration here at the Gift of Life. For us today is all about Marcus Moore. It’s his birthday today and we are taking this moment to extend the opportunity to you to join in our celebration.

Happy Birthday Marcus!!!

“Because life is a gift we treasure each moment”

Birthdays are very important to us. While some get embarrassed as they advance in years because of their age, we recognize what a precious gift life really is. When a preemie is born and has to stay in the NICU, they have a higher chance than most of not getting to their first birthday. And for many the danger doesn’t disappear after they’ve been discharged.

Life is precious, whether you’re the product of a premature birth or not. For each year of life, there’s someone who didn’t make it that far, regardless of the cause. And that’s why we make it a point to celebrate birthdays.

Marcus Moore one of the founders of The Gift of Life. He is husband to Rosie Moore and dad to our own little celebrity “Miracle Kaleb”.

When Kaleb was born a preemie, Marcus gave up his job to stay home and take care of his son. Doctors did not give Kaleb a high chance of survival. They thought he wouldn’t live through the NICU, but today he’s a thriving and active 9 year old with plenty of personality and passion.

To us, Marcus is a guy who deserves to celebrate his birthday. One way you can help celebrate with him is to donate to our cause. Help The Gift of Life raise the funds needed to expand our operations and help more families.

And be sure to drop Marcus Moore a quick line wishing him a Happy Birthday! You can hit him up on Facebook and comment on The Gift of Life’s Facebook page.

Happy Birthday to Rosie From The Gift of Life Team

Happy Birthday to Rosie From The Gift of Life Team

It’s become a tradition here at The Gift of Life to celebrate the birthdays of our team. And, of course, Rosie Moore’s birthday could hardly be an exception! For those who don’t know, Rosie is our founder. She’s also the mother of our very own “Miracle” Kaleb Moore, the preemie who started it all – it’s still amazing to us that he’s now a just a few years from being a preteen! Rosie is also an author of children’s’ books and romance novels, Mrs. Michigan International, and is even a doula, having earned her doctorate in nursing – yup, that’s Dr. Rosie Moore to you! Rosie’s career as a motivational speaker is also on the rise.


Do you think she does enough? Too much? Well, we haven’t even begun to dig into her wedding planning business. Rosie’s not only an impressive, master wedding planner, but also travel agent. If Rosie plans a trip for you, rest assured it’ll be top notch! And, if you missed having her plan your wedding, maybe it’s time to renew your wedding vows!


What an amazing person. To us, Rosie Moore is a true inspiration. I mean, she really stays on her toes ;).


To the families we help, she’s a blessing. She’s a blessing to us and thanks to her we get to be a part of being a blessing to countless families right when they need a friend the most.


What gift could you give such a person as Rosie for her birthday? Rosie loves to give back. Her passion for The Gift of Life’s mission keeps her focused on the needs of the organization and the families it serves. The best gift to her is to help that mission succeed. This you can do either through a monetary gift or by donating your time. A simple social share or a note on your calendar to join one of our events are also ways to help further The Gift of Life.


We at The Gift of Life thank you for taking this moment to join us in celebrating Rosie’s birthday and hope to see you at our 2019 Black Tie Gala which takes place annually in September in Orlando (weather permitting!).


Happy Birthday Rosie! To us, you’re the gift.



The Gift of Life Team

Time Management Tips for Families in the Real World

Wouldn’t it be great if everything always went as planned? Enterprise level organizations seem to get it right. They plan out bold visions, take action, and multiply success. Effective time management skills are a driver for achievement.


Things work out differently on the family level. Many don’t run their homes like businesses. The team isn’t made of paid employees. People are far more irreplaceable at home than in the workplace. And sometimes those irreplaceable people experience extreme challenges. When the person you depend on is suddenly thrown into chaos, some of it is bound to rub off on you; there’s no way you’ll be left completely unaffected.


Consider the case of an expectant mother who never thought her new baby would come as anything other than full-term. She plans as many new mothers do, building the layette, designing the nursery, and perhaps even lining up a few babysitters. She could not foresee the demands and challenges that arose as a result of her child being born too soon.


Having a preemie is not the only challenge that can make effective time management more difficult for families but it is a good example. Often, families have to learn a completely new lifestyle when their premature infant finally gets clearance to go home from the NICU. The health challenges preemies experience can result in a rigorous and demanding home schedule. Many new preemie parents find keeping pace to be a real struggle.


Never give up


Family struggles can make the ability to set and follow a schedule seem like an elusive dream. Just when you think you’ll be on point, another unexpected hurdle appears to throw you off track. And the emotional impact can make focus difficult to muster when you do find time to dedicate to a task. These effects can trickle through the entire family, transforming even the most well-oiled machine to a rusty old axle.


The frustration of consistently having your time management efforts torn apart by chaos can be depressing. Creating a schedule can seem pointless. Compound these effects with those of important tasks going undone and a sense of hopelessness may arise. Though the struggle is worthwhile when you are helping a loved one through a difficult time, the knock to your productivity can seem devastating.


Never ever give up hope that you can reclaim mastery of both personal and household time management and productivity. You will find that your persistence leads to evolution. You’ll gain experience and character as you work through hard times. As you grow stronger, you’ll feel the burden become lighter. And the good spirit of your dedication will have a beneficial influence on all those under your roof.


Practice makes perfect


Practice, practice, practice -sometimes we’d rather not hear that bit of advice. We think to ourselves, “please don’t let me have to go back to the drawing board yet again”. But what better way to show your dedication to hope and persistence for achievement than to put forth consistent effort? When you and your family face steep challenges, approaching the rough parts of life as lessons meant to improve your abilities can help to reduce stress and keep you moving forward.


Even if you were a very organized person before the waves of life struck and threw you off balance, it’s now time to approach personal and family time management as a skill you are working to acquire.  Separate the chaos of the day from the act of planning, thereby alleviating any fear of the unknown. It goes like this: You plan out a day, things don’t go right. The next day, plan again. Celebrate your successes and meditate over what didn’t play out as hoped.


As much as possible, make your goal to succeed in the planning session itself. Set aside a time every day to get at least this one thing done. Over time you will see that your strong devotion to doing this one thing at an established time will have a positive influence over how the rest of the day goes. It doesn’t matter at this point whether other family members cooperate. Give them and yourself time to adjust as you work towards a brighter future for all.


Communicate, communicate, communicate


People experience and respond to stress in different ways. Everyone has a coping mechanism. Differences in coping mechanisms can sometimes cause friction within a family. Somehow you all must get on the same sheet of music. The first milestone to restoring  a smooth-running household is to strengthen communication.


When one of your own is going through a challenge, now is the time when forgiveness must be paramount. Freedom is safety. If a person in your family fears self-expression with other members it can easily have a negative impact on communication. Issues that are brought to the table are more readily dealt with than those that are hidden. Over time you may find that unexpected turns of events become fewer, allowing your plans to stick.


This is time management for families in the real world


In an ideal world everything is perfect, predictable, and yields to your plans. Projects go as projected. Nobody ever shows up late. All the work gets done in the time allotted to it. No key task or commitment goes undone. But this is the real world. It’s a world in which imperfection is a key part of perfection.  It’s a world of learning more than of mastery and the things we think we know are often proved invalid. We live in a beautiful world.


So much of the hardship felt by families who are going through hard times is centered on the unavoidable stall in organization and productivity that results from their situation versus the situation itself. Many preemies, like our own Miracle Kaleb, get to live far beyond the NICU, becoming remarkable human beings. When Kaleb was first born, Rosie and Marcus, his parents, were forced into an adjustment period. Today, they are founders of The Gift of Life and Rosie is a successful author in addition to Mrs. Windermere International. Kaleb is a healthy young boy with a dynamic and admirable personality of his own.


If your family is going through a struggle and time seems hectic, know that we at The Gift of Life have your back and that you can make it through. Even with all their many idiosyncrasies, unpredictability, and challenges, families are the center of love on the face of the earth. With time, practice, and patience, yours can come to run smoothly again.

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