A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds
I’m so happy to report that the First Annual Morgan’s FunDay, held on Sunday April 24, 2016- was a success!
HERE is the Press Release about it.
Morgan’s FunDay is a special day of fun and fundraising for The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund (a nonprofit which I am a member of their Board of Directors) that raises money to treat and prevent Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) in premature and medically fragile babies.
I became involved with them after meeting Stephanie Vaughan (President and Co-Founder of the The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund) at a speaking event I did in Connecticut, after publishing my book (From Hope to Joy) about my miracle 23 week micro preemie- Joy.
The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund (AKA “Morgan’s Fund”) was started after Stephanie and Jeff Vaughan delivered premature twin boys (Shaymus and Morgan) and Morgan developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
The weather was great!
The adults were able to enjoy the beautiful view of the Mahopac Golf Club while sipping their complimentary drink and the children were able to get fresh air- while watching the magic show, getting their face painted and doing some summersaults and back flips on the tumbling mats.
Photos by © Nick Benson Photography, 2016
Our afternoon started out quite leisurely as everyone trickled in. The DJ had the music playing and the kids started dancing right away. I love to see the kids dance!
After a while, we opened the kids buffet so that they could eat before the magic show began.
The kids started to get excited when they saw the magician walking in and then their eyes lit up even more when they saw the tumbling mats go by 🙂
Five of my high school students volunteered to help for day. They sold raffle tickets, 50/50 tickets, helped check people in, manned the kids craft table, and they also helped clean up.
The mini tumbling was a hit! Thank you to Gym on Wheels of the Hudson Valley for donating your time and mats so that the kids could get some exercise and practice their gymnastic skills!
The kids were sporting some pretty cool designs by our face painter, Aimee. I want to thank her for donating her time and talents so that the kids could have their faces, arms (and some legs!) painted.
I also want to thank Jocko the Magician for giving the kids such a great show. They were laughing and yelling with Joy!
The adult buffet opened soon after the magic show began. The timing was great! The kids were watching the magic show on the patio while their parents watched them through the glass.
Once all of the adults were seated, we began the award presentation and speeches.
After introducing myself, sharing Joy’s birth story and explaining why I got involved with The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund, I introduced Stephanie Vaughan- President and Co-Founder. Stephanie shared how “Morgan’s Fund” got started and how they use the money raised to support research for the treatment and prevention NEC.
While the children (over 30 of them!) watched the magic show or tumbled around, we had the pleasure to listen to our guest speakers- who have been affected by Necrotizing Enterocolitis in ways that are unimaginable to most of us.
First, Katie and Frank Pedro shared their story. Lucas and Lily Pedro (twins) were born as micro preemies in 2012 and both babies developed NEC. Although the doctors did all that they could, Lily earned her angel wings and now watches over her beautiful twin brother (Lucas) and her parents from heaven.
Next, the Falcone family shared their very personal experience with NEC. Tracey and John Falcone also delivered twins as micro preemies. Their baby girl Mia only survived a few days and their son Anthony lived for 8 months- all of which was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY. He suffered from several complications due to his extremely premature birth, including Necrotizing Enterocolitis, and now both Mia and Anthony are guardian angels watching over their brother and sister here on earth .
I cannot thank these families enough for speaking at Morgan’s FunDay. It’s not easy to speak about our most painful experiences, especially losing a child (or children). For a few moments, these parents selflessly let us into their lives so that we could see how devastating premature births and Necrotizing Enterocolitis can be to families.
Both families deserve a lot of credit for sharing their most personal experiences.
Once our speakers were finished, we presented The Lily Pedro Award for Excellence to Dr. Edmund LaGamma of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.
Dr. LaGamma has been published in over 100 research articles related to neonatology and several of them are related to the treatment and prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
The Lily Pedro Award for Excellence was established to recognize individuals or organizations who exemplify the mission, vision, and ideals of The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund. It is named in memory of Lily Marie Pedro, infant daughter of Katherine and Frank Pedro, who lost her battle with NEC in 2012.
Dr. Edmund LaGamma is a very deserving recipient of this award. His research and dedication to NEC and premature births is well established and ongoing- and he is Chief of Newborn Medicine in the NICU at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. He is also the reason why my daughter is alive after her extremely premature birth at 23 weeks gestation in 2012.
I was honored to present this year’s award to Dr. LaGamma.
Joy will be 4 years old in a few weeks- and this is thanks to Dr. LaGamma and the other neonatologists and nurses at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
The rest of the afternoon is a blur as it was filled with music, dancing, games and raffles!
The local businesses were so generous- donating over 60 gift certificates and goodies to be raffled off.
We also had three silent auction items to bid on and two large Door Prizes to give away ($500 Foursome to Mahopac Golf and Beach Club and 4 Jim Beam Suite Yankee tickets with private parking!) 🙂
We kept the giveaways, music and games going through dessert and the kids (and many adults!) got to enjoy the “make-your-own” ice cream sundae bar. That was a hit!
So… in conclusion…
It was a great day to raise awareness and money to help treat and prevent Necrotizing Enterocolitis in premature babies and we had fun doing it!
That was my goal.
Every child should have the opportunity to enjoy life, get their face painted, do summersaults and watch a magic show with friends.
Today was about raising money so that more premature babies get that opportunity.
Thank you to everyone who came, donated, or just spread the word.
And a special thanks goes to The Pedro Family, Falcone Family, Dr. LaGamma, The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund and all of the vendors that donated their time and services to Morgan’s FunDay. They are listed below.
The Falcone Family started a nonprofit to assist families with babies in the NICU. It’s called The Wonder Twins Fund. Please visit their site to learn about how you can help, too.
I hope to see you all (and some of your friends. LOL!) next year 🙂
Thanks again to Brian Williams Events for donating the balloon centerpieces, Aimee Freundich for donating her talent and time so that the kids could have their faces painted, Gym on Wheels of the Hudson Valley for donating their time so that the kids could do some gymnastics, Jocko the Magician for the magic show, Nick Benson Photography for the beautiful pictures, Ryan from Turning Point Entertainment for our music, and The Mahopac Golf and Beach Club for the venue.
Below is a list of the GENEROUS local restaurants and businesses that donated gift certificates, money, or products to support Morgan’s FunDay and Necrotizing Enterocolitis research. Please click on them as a “thank you” to see if you can use any of their services 🙂
Please visit The Morgan Leary Vaughan Fund’s website by clicking HERE to learn more about Necrotizing Enterocolitis and how we are using the monies to research new treatments and preventions.
Please sign up for my monthly blogposts so that you can see what’s going on in the world of prematurity and how you can get involved, too 🙂