The letter below was written after a reunion of children that were previous patients in WakeMed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The reunion was amazing! It was a glorious day and the turn out was huge….over 500 people!!!!! I hesitate to mention individual names of those who supported the reunion before and at the event (I don’t want to leave any name out), but so many of you donated time, money, and supplies. Even our own families came to help us….you can tell how much what we do means to them as well…thank you to our good husbands and kids who cooked, cleaned, and supported us at the reunion. A very special thank you to those of you who hauled “stuff”…managed registration, cooked and served food, made snow cones, cleaned up, and talked with families. We even had 10 teenagers (Cauvel, Clements, Lopez, Larkin, Nutt, and Daniel’s Family) who filled up 100 + beach balls, managed traffic control, and played with the kids.
A very special thank you to the WakeMed Foundation and to Kiecha Berzins from PR who supported the event.
- The numbers in attendance: 500 + Wow!!!
- The family photography area: Amazing photographer: the photos will be posted soon …email to follow
- The Balls in the field. (Thank you Walter Nutt for inflating endless #’s of beach balls)…probably the most simple thing we do that is loved, loved, loved by the kids
- Face Painting: Thank you for working your fingers to the bone Cathy Gerrald!
- Karate Demo: Thank you Master Jun Lee – 3 of our former preemies and 30 other kids performed
- Games: Robin and Adam Cauvel: We appreciate so much all of your hard work in setting it up. Adam you’re a doll…thanks for helping your Mom!
- Music: Highway 17 did an outstanding job!
- The food: Ed Alston- the master hot dog chef!! Sorry about running out of catsup. (Susan H, Donna H, Desiree, Vickie, Shelly A , and Holly and Kevin
- Families: You wouldn’t believe the connection they all felt towards each other. Thank you Vanessa Totten (our Family Advisory Board representative for doing so much to support the event)
- Our babies: They’re growing up…..next time I’ll carry kleenex….you wouldn’t believe how many times a family wants you to hug their baby for a photo. I heard over and over again how much we’re loved and appreciated.
- Registration, greeters, and cooking volunteers: You deserve so much credit for managing huge crowds and providing smiles and hugs. (Jessica, Tabb, Shelby, Emily, Cindy, and Kathy J (our co-chair)
- Donations: Bev, Jasmine, Darlene, Cathy P, Beth, Cindy, Jesse Jones Hot Dogs (Emmitt Hare), Pepsi ( Ed Alston), Baby’s R US (Thank you Jill) Chick Fil-A – loved the Princess Cow!!! Decorations: Vanessa Totten and Susan Gregory – thank you. To all the donors: We couldn’t have done this without you!
- Susan Gutierrez, Shelly Alston, and Holly Burroughs – for being such champions of this event.
- A family shared that not only did we save her baby’s life, but she came close to dying during delivery. She shared this story through tears and said we mean everything to them.
- Another Mom drove 1 1/2 hours with her twins to reach the reunion and got lost….she arrived after it ended!! You could tell how much being there meant to her…and how much she needed to see us!
I hope next year that you’ll mark your calendars. We will look to establishing the reunion on the same weekend of every October…this should make it easier to schedule your time. Again, thanks to all of you for what you do and for the support you offer our families.
*If you were at the reunion – please send me recommendations for improving next year’s event (firstname.lastname@example.org). We know there are some things we can do better…so share your thoughts!
Michelle Clements, RN
WakeMed Health and Hospitals
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – Staff Nurse