Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Madeline

(this article was prepared by Middle Aged Woman from Unmitigated in memory of Madeline Alice Spohr...)

I don't think there are too many people reading this who didn't have their heart broken on April 7th of this year. That's the day we learned that Madeline Alice Spohr, whom we all knew as Maddie from The Spohrs Are Multiplying, was suddenly taken fromher parents, Heather and Mike, when a respiratory infection coupled with a collapsed lung was more than her 17-month-old body could fight.

Thousands of people across the country mourned with Heather and Mike, and thousands came to their support by donating to the March of Dimes in Maddie's memory. Since then, the Spohrs, along with family and friends, have created Friends of Maddie, a fund dedicated to supporting families of critically ill or prematurely-born infants during their stay in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with supplies, help finding temporary lodging (because the NICU isn't always within commuting distance of home), and by creating a network of support.

Friends of Maddie uses your donation to put together SupportPacks for families who find themselves overwhelmed with the care of an at-risknewborn. The packs include items such as reusable water bottles, snack bars,tissues, mints, and most importantly, a tri-fold binder with a note pad and accordion file to keep track of paperwork."We're hopeful it will make it at a little easier for parents to keep track of everything," Heather says. "You get SO many papers, business cards, etc., every day, and it's hard to keep track of everything."

She should know, she lived the experience. Maddie's sixty-eight-day stay in the NICU is chronicled on Heather's blog and her husband Mike's blog as well. Readers across the country followed every setback and every victory.

What message would she like to pass on to parents in the same situation? "Patience. Take things a day at a time and live in the moment. Don't look down the road or things will get REALLY scary and overwhelming," shared Heather.

The reaction to the packs has been terrific, according to Heather, "We've been getting a FANTASTIC response from everyone! We weren't expecting such a big response so we are really behind in getting back to everyone, but it's a good problem to have!"

By now, you are all wondering how you can help, right? I knew it. You people rock. Your options:

* Donate! I know, the economy is bad right now, but every little bit helps. Or...
* Let your local NICU know about Friends of Maddie, or...
* Do you work for a company that might bring a valuable service to NICU parents? Contact FoM! Or...
* Just spread the word! Write a blog post! Send out a tweet! Y'all know how this works!

Mike and Heather's loss is unimaginable. In spite of their grief, they have found a way to pay forward all the love poured out from thousands of hearts across the internet.

Tell your friends about Friends of Maddie.