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Why the Preemie Power Contest Means So Much

Thurston and MomWhen a child is born preterm or with a special health care need, they face many challenges—from simply breathing on their own to regulating their body temperature to learning to eat from bottle or breast.  Unfortunately, many face significant challenges—from the need for surgery just hours after birth to infection and brain bleeds. Once home, the challenges sometimes continue for many months and in some cases for a lifetime.

Even late term preemies (babies born between 34-36 weeks) often face medical and developmental challenges. For a preemie, there are often muscle tone, balance and information (both auditory and visual) processing delays which can postpone milestones and impede learning and school readiness.

As a parent, it is excruciating to watch your child struggle during a NICU stay.  And those same feelings of guilt, frustration, fear, helplessness and exhaustion often persist long after a NICU stay as you work to provide your child with every opportunity to meet their full potential.  That is why Hand to Hold’s Preemie Power Photo and Essay Contest is so important.  The annual contest offers a way for parents to pause, reflect and celebrate the tremendous progress of their babies, infants and children.  And in some cases, it is a time to remember and honor a child that was unable to overcome their mighty villains.

Thundering ThurstonShortly after naming our first Preemie Power winners in 2010,  I visited one of the winner’s at his home.  I had the pleasure of getting to know “Thundering Thurston” Mossholder and his amazing mom Donna during Thurston’s long journey in the hospital.  The day Thurston was named the winner of Preemie Power, his parents received word that he would soon be coming home.  Unfortunately, Thurston experienced major medical complications and was released from the hospital into hospice care on his first birthday.  Donna graciously allowed me to visit Thurston at their home so I could say goodbye.  One of the first things I noticed as I entered the room was Thurston’s green Preemie Power cape hanging by his crib.  As I talked to and patted that precious baby and tried to wrap my mind around the fact that his fight was drawing to a close, Donna told me how important the Preemie Power Contest was to her and her family.  She said it provided her an outlet to share Thurston’s story in a positive way that shed light on the amazing miracle that he was, the lives that he touched, love that he brought into her life and the many lessons he taught her and others despite the tremendous challenges he faced and the sadness surrounding the battle that ultimately he would not overcome.

I knew then, that Hand to Hold would make its Preemie Power Contest an annual event.  We named one of the awards after Thurston and each year the winner with the most votes receives the Thundering Thurston Award, which in addition to a super hero cape includes Thurston’s favorite toy “Mini Glow,” his superhero sidekick – a GloWorm.  Donna is a talented seamstress and has donated her time to make Preemie Power super hero capes for our contest winners, a sweet tribute.

She wrote these words (read the full story) as she reflected on her super hero:

Thurston made me look outside of myself and my own problems and realize just how lucky we have been on this journey and has encouraged me to reach out to others who are hurting.

Most importantly, Thurston has taught me to hope more than I ever thought I could. In the beginning, I believed so much of the worst case scenarios that were thrown my way. Just when I thought he was out of the woods, Thurston was again knocking on death’s door and instead of believing the worst would happen I clung onto the most amazing and overwhelming feeling of hope, realizing not only had he proven time and time again that he has the ability to overcome obstacle after obstacle, but that he deserved a mother that was as strong, as tenacious, as stubborn, as persistent, and as brave as her son had grown to be.”

Preemie Power is much more than a photo and essay contest.  It is a celebration of amazing kids and their families who have faced tremendous obstacles and conquered them with love, faith and sheer determination.

We hope that if you are a NICU parent, you will enter your child’s story beginning September 29, 2014.  And we invite all our followers to visit PreemiePower.org each day between October 17 and 31 to cast a vote for your favorite preemie and NICU Super Heroes.  Winners will be chosen in five age categories and a category not based on votes – so no one is too young or too old to enter!

May God Bless all of our past and future Preemie Power contestants and their families.

To infinity and beyond!

Kelli Kelley Signature 
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director

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Sophie Carney Nominated Dr. Stewart Lawrence for NICU Hero Award

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To The NICU Nurse...Thank You!

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Preemie Power 2014

Tell Us About Your Little One's Super Powers!

Snap a photo of your little one and enter them in our 5th Annual Preemie Power Photo & Essay Contest to raise awareness and share hope of the amazing resilience, courage and bravery of our children. The contest begins accepting nominations in five age categories September 29. NICU and preemie babies of all ages are invited to enter. Visit PreemiePower.org for more details.

Baby Shower

Mark Your Calendar for a Baby Shower

Mark your calendar for a morning of fun, games, prizes and delicious food at Hand to Hold's first annual Baby Shower Ladies Luncheon to be held November 14, 2014 in Austin, Texas. This unique event will be a time of celebration for NICU graduate parents as well as those in our community who give of their time and talents to ensure the best outcomes for all babies. The event will feature Keynote Speaker Kristin Armstrong, author of Heart of my Heart, who will share reflections on the magnitude and meaning of motherhood. For more information about how to attend, visit handtohold.org/babyshower.

Become a Helping Hand Peer Mentor

Mom holding a preemieVolunteer to support a family like yours. Become a Helping Hand peer mentor and use your experience to help a fellow NICU parent. Sign up for our online training and our Family Support Navigators will guide you through the process.

Chat With Healthcare Experts Each Month

Watch for our next Facebook Chat in October. If you have a topic or speaker you'd like to suggest, contact Angie Bickford.

Thanks for Your Support


For Healthcare Providers

MilesHand to Hold offers two resources exclusively for NICU health professionals. First is Hand to Hold's NICU Resource Library, a collection of educational materials available by subscription for NICU families in English and Spanish. Endorsed by the National Perinatal Association, these materials complement Family-Centered Care practices. We also offer brochures, posters, newsletters and fliers to help healthcare professionals connect families to the free support Hand to Hold offers. 

Past Issues

Read past eNewsletters.

   About Hand to Hold
Hand to Hold logoHand to Hold is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. 

Hand to Hold - www.handtohold.org - 855-H2H-NICU

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