With family comes tradition. And those who cherish the practices that are passed along to them often do so because of how they make them feel. It’s like when the delightful aroma of fresh pine, apples and cinnamon or the mouthwatering flavor of turkey and stuffing reminds you not only of the holidays but of home and of childhood.
It’s these heartwarming, cherished, grounding kind of memories we desire each preemie to live to have. We want the preemie parents to have those sweet Christmas mornings where their once-one-pound child is now eagerly ripping the wrapping paper apart, the often under-appreciated, invaluable chance to give their family’s newest little blessing their first taste of pumpkin pie.
Traditions. Holidays. If you consider them rightly, birthdays are both. Birthdays are a gift at every age, from one to 100+. And in my humble opinion, the bigger the number, the greater the gift – the present, of course, being life. The Gift of Life.
But I’ve been proven wrong before. In fact, I’m finding my own position arguable just now because….
Because I remember them. I remember the preemies I saw in the NICU, how tiny their diapers; how fragile their paper-thin, translucent skin. Though every year of life, every birthday is a blessing, sometimes it’s that first one that can feel like the greatest gift of all.
At least to the parents that is.
And Marcus Moore is a proud dad who knows this a bit all too well. His son Kaleb was born a preemie and given seemingly-hopeless odds to survive.
But survive he did! What a blessing! What a miracle! And that Kaleb…what a personality! What a guy! We absolutely love and are inspired, motivated by just how much he absolutely loves life!
And life is a gift….
So today is Marcus Moore’s birthday and what gift shall we give him? For what does he ask?
We’re a family and that has become our tradition. Our bond is not by blood but by the common valuing of life and deeply ingrained care for the smallest of us all and those who love them (aka the preemies and their families).
See, preemies are “the forgotten children” during times of tradition. Visit the hospital around Christmas and you’ll likely find tons of gifts and donations flowing to the children there – as long as they’re not on the NICU side that is.
But their families didn’t forget them. Neither do we. Nor do we forget their families. Spending any holiday in the NICU worrying over the life of your preemie is often one of the loneliest (and scariest) places to be.
Today, on Marcus Moore’s birthday, won’t you share in the love? Won’t you join in on the celebration? How about giving yourself a gift on his birthday, one that cheers his heart as well?
Buy yourself a ticket to the gala. And if you really want to celebrate, buy a table of 10 and fill it with your friends.
You see, each donation and every ticket sale allows us to do that much more for the preemies in the NICU. It allows us to fulfill our mission of providing them with hope, encouragement, love and support. It helps Marcus Moore, a founder, achieve what has long been his deep struggle and deepest heart’s desire to do.
And what better birthday present could there be than that?
Happy Birthday Marcus! From your team, friends, and family: The Gift of Life.
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.
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.
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?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Gift of Life’s team
Happy Thanksgiving 2018. Today is a day of feasting, family, friends, and making new fond memories. For many, it’s all about food. Passionate home chefs show off the best of their cooking skills. Passionate eaters show off their ability to put it all away.
For some, it’s a spiritual time as they reflect on goodness and count their blessings. The patriotic, philosophical, and political minded look to history to justify the day’s significance. To the lonely and the heartbroken this and any holiday that’s all about gathering is just another reminder of their sorrows. Their state is an opportunity for a miracle.
Extending love to someone that’s hurting can enrich your own joy this holiday season. At the Gift of Life, we extend love to the family of preemies in the NICU. It’s difficult not being able to bring your newborn home for the holidays. It can be heart wrenching to spend Thanksgiving in the NICU, hoping but not certain that your beautiful brand new baby will survive.
Such an experience tests faith, character, and family bonds. To these parents we offer love, encouragement, and support. They find hope in founders Rosie and Marcus’ testimony about their son Kaleb, who now thrives but was given less than a 10% chance of survival at birth.
Every year The Gift of Life delivers Love Bears and Santa Hats to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). This year was no different. What is the story behind this passion that volunteers have to knit and crochet bears and hats? Love is the common denominator. If you can think of what it would be like to have a baby earlier than expected, lying in an incubator, fighting for his/her life, and being told that you cannot bring your baby home, this news is enough to put any parent into depression. Although we cannot change the circumstances, our volunteers get the meaning of the work that they do and with their talents bring a smile to the parents whose babies will not be going home. This year Florida Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital received Santa Hats. The families at Florida Hospital and families with babies in the Winnie Palmer NICU staying at the Ronald Mc Donald House also received Love Bears made by the senior citizens of The Good Samaritan Village, If we can bring a smile to ease the day for a grieving parent, then we have all done our job.
Merry Christmas from The Gift of Life!
Thank you to Bruce Reynolds, videographer for The Gift of Life Christmas Bear Delivery. Thank you to Jackie Pettit, mother of a premature baby who is now an adult, she dedicates her time to always preparing and delivering the Christmas hats and bears.
Contact The Gift of Life today to get involved in our knitters/crochet Facebook group who make the hats and bears all year round.
What can you say about a person that took a traumatic experience and transformed it into a blessing that continues to touch hundreds of lives? When we look at ourselves, our perceived shortcomings and limitations, and then consider the great people we know, it’s a humbling experience.
If you don’t know, Rosie Moore is a remarkable woman. We’ve come to think of her more like the superhero she dresses up as each year during the Super Run than as an ‘everyday’ person. She may never confess it, but she has moved her entire life from average to extraordinary. She’d never confess it because instead she’ll give all the glory to the God she serves – and that’s just another instance of her greatness.
Since starting The Gift of Life, Rosie has become a well-published author, local celebrity, and even transformed her own physical fitness to earn the crown of Mrs. Windermere International. Through her annual galas, 5k runs, and other events, she has brought together Orlando’s business community, local community, and preemie community. All of this, and Rosie’s story has still just begun.
Happy Birthday Rosie! We love you. You’re our mentor, leader, and a great inspiration.
This year is at it’s close and we’re now eagerly awaiting what 2018 will bring. Looking back on 2017 we can see the achievements and the challenges of our organization. The Gift of Life has not quite yet made 5 years old. Still in it’s infantile stage, we are ever aiming to take this organization to new heights for the sake of the families and communities we serve. We did more than ever but we have more work to do still.
The 5K Super Run took place in February and we could see the growth when compared to the previous year. There were crowds of runners all dressed up in their superhero costumes, having an awesome time for a heart-touching cause. Then, throughout the year we delivered preemie hats to the NICU and shipped out stacks of preemie care packages, both for families who were admitted and discharged. Our black tie gala was as elegant as ever, with it’s red carpet entry, silent auction, celebrity performances, and delectable cuisine. Everyone put on their best to give their best to those in need.
Even The Gift of Life’s website saw some major changes in 2017. We performed a total redesign to make it run faster, smoother, and provide a better user experience so that it could be the tool we needed in order to reach more people and do more good.
We have set our goals for 2018, including securing an office space that can house our administrative offices as well as serve as a donation drop off and preemie family mentoring center. We also aim to improve our outreach efforts and add more volunteers to our team. And of course, we’re always looking to improve the efficiency of our processes, growing ever better at fulfilling our mission, which states, “The Gift of Life offers hope, encouragement, and support to the parents of premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.”
Will you help us in celebrating Rosie’s birthday and preparing to achieve 2018’s goals? Join us on Facebook for Rosie’s Birthday fundraiser to make a contribution to cause.
Happy Birthday Rosie. May you celebrate countless more! You’re living proof that one person can make a difference
Here at The Gift of Life we’ve established a tradition of celebrating birthdays by dedicating a blog post to the celebrant. Birthdays are extremely important occasions to us because their very meaning touches so close to home when home is what we’re all about; too many preemies don’t get to celebrate even turning one year old.
So we take a lot of joy when someone we know and love gets to celebrate another year of life. Today, we’d like to send out a very happy birthday greeting to our own Marcus Moore, co-founder of The Gift of Life.
Now Marcus is a special kind of guy, indeed. When his son Kaleb was born a preemie and needed special at-home care, Marcus stepped up and left his career to stay at home and take care of his newborn son.
Life is so precious that not one moment ought to be taken for granted, and Marcus realized this. Kaleb had defied the odds when he lived despite warnings from medical experts who said he wasn’t going to make it. And the sad fact is that a lot of preemies who have this prediction placed over them by doctors indeed perish, even if they survive a few years.
Marcus took it upon himself to oversee his son’s well-being firsthand. It’s rare to hear of a stay-at-home dad, but considering what it takes to take care of a preemie, Marcus took the position of stay-at-home dad to a whole other level – it’s what he wanted to do and it’s what had to be done.
And we can see the results of Marcus’ love and care for his preemie son. We have a living witness that serves as the evidence of this man’s prayers come true – Kaleb himself, who just so happened to have turned a whopping 7 years old last year.
In a world where broken homes and general brokenness is not uncommon men like Marcus Moore are of particular noteworthiness. No way would we at The Gift of Life let the day go by without extending to him our well wishes for Marcus’ birthday.
Happy Birthday Marcus Moore! You too are a gift of life.
Want to join in on the birthday celebration? Consider making a donation to The Gift of Life.