In early May, we attended a fundraising event for Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital called the Red Wagon Lunch. They hold this lunch every year, but this year they focused on the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
As I mentioned in a previous post, we were invited to be profiled in a video about people who had been touched by Emanuel's NICU.
As part of the filming of the video, Chris went into the NICU for the first time since he left 13-1/2 years ago. Amazingly, the "pod" where he stayed for his first 8 or 9 weeks of life, in Level 3, was empty. We walked over to that spot and I showed him the monitors and the various features of the NICU. That was the most emotional moment for me...thinking back to all those agonized days and nights we spent by his bedside, praying for him to survive...to grow...and to thrive. Writing in our journal about what was happening each day. Singing and telling him poems. And imagining him as a healthy toddler, running along the beach.
The Red Wagon lunch was held at the convention center, on the day of the opening night of "Grease"! (Yes, we had a crazy first part of May!) The medical director/neonatalogist (who was the first one to take care of Chris) spoke about the history of neonatology and the NICU. (I had no idea that preemies were displayed in circus sideshows around the turn of the century.)
Then a woman who volunteers with Precious Beginnings spoke about her son. He was born with a growth on his lung, and doctors had advised her to terminate her pregnancy and gave dire predictions for his survival. (The day of his lunch was his second birthday!)
Then they unveiled the video--and here it is:
Not a dry eye in the house! We had the pleasure of sitting with the creative team from Rex, who we became very fond of. They are a highly talented group of professionals, and I was amazed by what they were able to do in a 7-minute video.
The event raised $160,000 for the new children's hospital! Here we are with our friend Jamie, who used to be the nurse manager of the NICU and now runs the children's ER:
And after the lunch (I found it deliciously ironic that Chris ate two desserts after all those horrific first months when we couldn't get him to eat!!) with the famous "red wagons." They use red wagons to take sick children on walks throughout the hospital and out to the Children's Garden.
We felt very privileged to be part of this fun event, which allowed us to remember, yet again, how very lucky we are to have such a wonderful young man. As Chris said in the video, thanks to everyone who helped him at Legacy Emanuel--we owe you his life, and we can never repay you our deep thanks and appreciation.