A difficult, yet rewarding journey
Eight years ago Nick Hall and his wife Jennifer welcomed two children into this world at 25 weeks. Combined, their children Reece and Graham weighed just 2 lbs. 13oz. “You want to be overwhelmed by joy when you see the babies, but you are overwhelmed with fear,” Jennifer recalled.
Though the Halls were so blessed with good jobs, great familial support, good medical insurance, etc. they still felt very isolated. So few people could relate to what they were going through. Graham only spent 45 short days on earth with his parents. “The length of one’s life does not necessarily measure the impact of one’s life,” Nick said. Reece is now 8 years old, but spent 4 months in the hospital when she was born. She went home with oxygen for two years taking 10 prescription medications. Just three weeks after finally going home she returned to the hospital, requiring brain surgery. There is so much more to having a ‘preemie’ than anyone could ever imagine. Finally leaving the hospital is just another step in the overwhelming journey.
Remembering the varied emotions and the countless trials and tribulations of their journey of prematurity, the Halls founded Graham’s Foundation in 2009 to support other preemie parents on their journey. They are so thankful to have Reece with them today and felt they could help make a difference in the lives of families today experiencing the same things they had gone through. “Prematurity is a journey, not a diagnosis,” Nick said.
Offering hope and support
Graham’s Foundation sends approximately 5,000 care packages to parents of preemies throughout the United States, and that number is growing. There are options of care packages for parents with a preemie in the NICU, including a transition package when the baby goes home, and a remembrance package for a family who loses their little angel much too soon.
Though the packages are sent free of charge, the foundation operates on a pay-it-forward philosophy. “People pay it forward or donate, but [the care packages are] almost all sent via donations,” Jennifer said. Graham’s Foundation also offers support via blogs, an active Facebook community where preemie parents can support one another and links to various resources.
The foundation also maintains a preemie parent mentoring program. Mentors can share experiences based on their own journey of prematurity and can connect with preemie parents to give support and let them know they are not alone. This opportunity for dialogue is just another way the foundation offers hope and removes the feelings of isolation that so many parents feel.
Want to make a difference?
One of their biggest local fundraisers, Tinis 4 Preemies, will be held on March 6, 2015 6p.m.-10p.m. at the Carranor Hunt & Polo Club in Perrysburg. All are invited to attend. Much more information about the event, the incredible foundation, and ways to donate can be found on their website, grahamsfoundation.org. They may also be reached at 888-466-2948.