My entire world changed the day my daughter, Casey, was born–April 23, 2006 just a few days shy of 37 weeks gestation. Due to a birth trauma, she suffered a severe brain injury. The brain injury led to a handful of other health complications. The first two months were spent in the NICU. Then, when we finally did get home, we spent the next six months just trying to figure things out. The past five years have been spent doing everything in our power to keep her as healthy and happy as possible. We have had some great days, and some terrifying. My daughter is without a doubt the most amazing person I have ever met. She has inspired me in so many ways.
One day a friend of mine asked if I had heard of Hand to Hold. She went on to tell me the general idea behind Hand to Hold and suggested that I contact Kelli. When I pulled up the web page and began to read the history and how Hand to Hold came to be, I could not believe my eyes. I felt like I had just found my long lost sisters. There were so many times that I wished, even begged doctors, for another family to talk to about our experiences. During our stay in the NICU, I think I must have asked daily. At times I really needed someone that had been there to just tell me it will be okay. Other times (after the first year or so), I wanted so much to be able to provide other families with what wasn’t available to us. The fact that Hand to Hold was created from that very idea was more than a sign to me. I knew I had to get involved.
After I met Kelli and the rest of the team, I was even more convinced that I had found what I was looking for in a support organization. I wish that Hand to Hold was around when Casey was a baby. I am thrilled that Hand to Hold is there for so many families now. Over the years there have been many times that people have approached me with questions. Sometimes I think they must have overheard me talking about a topic, or maybe they just saw Casey and assumed I knew the answers. I started noticing that most of the people had the same questions. I wanted to find a way to present the information to more people.
It started as a very rough idea, but with the help of the entire team at Hand to Hold we were able to polish the idea into an exciting new program. Lunch & Learn, a new informal lunch session on topics to help families care for their child and families, kicked off June 8, 2011 with our first topic on summer activities for children of all abilities. A different topic presented by speakers from around the community will be highlighted each month, and our July topic will cover MED 101: Your Guide to Medical Specialists. Visit the Lunch & Learn for the latest topics, and I invite other families to suggest future topics as well. I really hope that the program continues to grow and can help other families in some way.
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