Micro preemies give back to the NICU where life started as they approach graduation this weekend
By: Hand to Hold
In August of 2000, Jackson Kelley was born at 24 weeks gestation and Luke and Gabe at 27 weeks gestation, all three considered micro preemies. The boys spent nearly 100 days (or more) fighting in the NICU. Today, all three boys walked the NICU and handed out messages of encouragement to current NICU families.
For Jackson, Luke and Gabe, it is an opportunity to give back during a monumental milestone. Eighteen years ago, it was a celebration and graduation from the SDMC NICU. This week, the families celebrate the boys' graduation from high school.
Hand to Hold was founded by Jackson's mom, Kelli Kelley, inspired by her experiences in the NICU and in the weeks, months and years after. For Kelley, the NICU was a lonely place that felt isolating and overwhelming. Today, Hand to Hold provides peer mentors for families in the NICU and family support specialists in partner hospitals (like SDMC) that are NICU parents themselves. The organization also hosts podcasts on many NICU-related topics.
For the Kelley and DeYoung families today was a day to celebrate so many milestones, not only for the three boys, but for all NICU families.
About Hand to Hold:
Hand to Hold is a national nonprofit that helps families before, during, and after NICU stays and infant loss by providing powerful resources for the whole family, and most importantly, one-on-one mentoring from someone who has been there. Hand to Hold resources include in-hospital programs, articles and blogs, podcasts, social networks and trained peer mentors. All were designed with the emotional, physical, and social needs of the whole NICU family. Hand to Hold was the 2012 recipient of the Becky Hatfield Family Support Award, given by the National Perinatal Association. In 2015, Hand to Hold was ranked as one of the top 10 resources for NICU parents by About.com. All services are offered without charge. For more information, visit www.handtohold.org.
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