Every year Rosie and Marcus Moore founders of The Gift of Life, take November 17 World Prematurity Day as a day to remember their little miracle Kaleb that was born 13 weeks early at 27 weeks, weighing only 1lb 10oz and 12 inches long. They remember the almost 6 months that he lived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) growing, having medical issues, and hanging on to every breath, wondering if it would be his last one. They cried, they prayed, and lost sleep for months and even years after he went home. At birth, he was only given a 5% chance of survival, while Rosie, hung on for life as well after the emergency c-section. Marcus was at a loss with his only child possibly not making it, the love of his life in serious condition following the surgery. He clung to God, but also to the song He’s My Son by Mark Schultz. He prayed those words, he shouted, God can you hear me. Somedays there was silence and the emotions overcame him because he could not stand another day going to see his son suffering.
As Rosie got better, his spirits were lifted through her encouragement, that God would not provide him a son to take him away. He grew stronger each day until the day he finally came home. This past September, The Gift of Life held their 5th annual charity gala and Rosie decided that she would put together an assimilation of what life in the NICU was like for parents. Marcus and Tisha were to perform in the assimilation together, but due to the unexpected hurricane Tisha, Mrs. Virginia International, mother of preemies herself, was not able to get out to Orlando. But because Orlando has a huge heart for charity, Karen Shriner, professional actress, and singer stepped into the role 2 days before the event and evoked emotion along with Marcus from the audience.
See some of the remarks from the guests:
“I was overtaken with emotion, I could not stop crying.”
” I already knew the story because I went through it with Marcus and Rosie, but seeing the show tonight, brought me back to that moment and I cried like a baby.”
“I never knew that parents endured these emotions.”
“I was scheduled to work and did not know that my job today was involving an event for premature babies, it brought me back to when my daughter was born 14 yrs ago, I could not stop crying and I am supposed to be working the event.”
The list went on of people sharing their emotions.
The assimilation started with founder Rosie Moore saying:
“Imagine your baby being born 13 weeks early, weighing 1lb 10oz and fitting in the palm of your hand.”
From there, The NICU awareness video played:
Then the assimilation with Karen Shriner and Marcus Moore started to the song He’s My Son” by Mark Schultz. It showed the daily fears, tears, struggles, emotions of two parents while their baby was in the NICU. That is the story of Rosie and Marcus. Florida Hospital partnered with The Gift of Life to sponsor the Isolette similar to the one little Kaleb was in when he stayed in the NICU.
Many times Rosie would be alone in the room not wanting to go home while Marcus would go to the chapel or on the other side of the room praying as Rosie hunched over the isolette still healing from her surgery, weary from lack of sleep, and hurting to see her son lying in an isolette connected to wires, IV’s, breathing machines, coding frequently setting off alarms. In this assimilation that is what Karen and Marcus are doing assimilating those moments in the NICU.
They share this story with you today not so that you can feel sorry for them or any other preemie parent but so that they can raise awareness of what is happening with preemie parents when they are in the NICU. These emotions are real and painful.
The Gift of Life needs your help, they can’t do this alone, it takes a village of volunteers, board members, and financial support to reach as many families as they can.
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.
With all the Christmas rush of gifts, parties, dinners and last minute shopping, it is a wonder that we can all remain sane trying to get everything organized. But for some people, none of this excitement will be fulfilled because they are dealing with something that has taken a much larger priority. Parents that have babies born premature in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) don’t get an opportunity to celebrate Christmas as you or I would because their baby is struggling to survive in the NICU.
Imagine that the greatest joy of celebrating your baby’s first Christmas and you have to celebrate it in the NICU. This is why the Christmas Bear delivery to NICU’s in Central Florida started. The Gift of Life delivers Christmas bears that are knitted by the senior citizens of The Good Samaritan Village every year so that we can bring a little cheer to each and every parent and let them know that someone is thinking about them as their baby is recuperating. The Gift of Life also provided knitted Santa hats for the babies to wear on Christmas Day.
Getting the bears and hats ready:
This year The Gift of Life was able to donate over 150 bears to the NICU at Florida Hospital, a few parents at Winnie Palmer, parents staying at Ronald McDonald House with babies in the Winnie Palmer NICU, and to a few NICU parents in the state of Washington, Virginia, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Ohio. We were also able to donate this year over 600 Care packages to families in the NICU’s and those staying at Ronald McDonald Houses and individual families asking for support across the country. We can only do this through the donations of our sponsors and donations that come in to help with the packages and postage to send out the care packages. We were also able to donate this year over 600 Care packages to families in the NICU’s and those staying at Ronald McDonald Houses and individual families asking for support across the country.
Words from a preemie parent:
My son Emerson is a current patient at Florida hospital in the NICU. We received your teddy bear and it brightened our day.
Thank you so much for your kindness during this difficult time.
Delivering Bears and Hats to the Florida Hospital NICU
Delivering Hats and Bears to Parents at Winnie Palmer NICU
Delivering Hats and Bears to Ronald McDonald House for parents of preemies who are at Winnie Palmer NICU.
Watch as we deliver to Florida Hospital NICU the Love Bears this year. Celebrity singer Jody McBrayer, dedicated this special song to our families when he sang at our Charity Christmas gala this past year.
A big thank you to our volunteers Keitra Robinson, Jackie Pettit, Marcus Moore and Child Life Specialist Summer Bernath and our digital storyteller Bruce Reynolds.
A big thank you to Jody McBrayer for coming t our annual Gift of Life Charity Gala and dedcating this song to the babies.
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