Parents of Preemies: Graham’s Foundation to host free, local event March 10Written by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Maximillian Bucher was born three months early, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces.
He spent his first 89 days at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Toledo before he could go home.
“When you’re in the situation, you feel very lost,” his father, Matt Bucher, said. “You just don’t know where to turn sometimes and it’s just extremely stressful.”
Max will be celebrating his third birthday this May.
“He had his ups and downs, but he didn’t have to come home with a monitor,” Bucher said. “He’s a very active, energetic young man. He just loves life. We can’t imagine our lives without him in it.”
It was Max’s situation that motivated the Buchers to give back.
Bucher and his wife, Jean, began volunteering at Graham’s Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that helps aid families of premature babies.
“Some days are great days, but when you have the bad days, it’s really nice to have an extra help there,” Bucher said. “That’s what Graham’s Foundation does.”
Graham’s Foundation was founded in 2009, the year before Max was born. The Buchers hadn’t heard of the organization at the time. During Max’s stay at the hospital, Bucher said they both had big families for support. But he stresses there are many parents of preemies without close relatives and friends.
“It’s almost too hard to go it alone,” Bucher said. “So to have these volunteers there to help is a tremendous thing they’re trying to do. We can’t, as an organization, certainly solve it, but if we can help spread the word and help one other set of parents, we think we are doing our best.”
Graham’s Foundation was founded by Nick and Jennifer Hall, parents of Graham, a premature child who died after 45 days. The organization assembles and sends care packages to parents of premature babies. The organization also offers parent-to-parent support through a resource phone line. All of these services are volunteer-run.
Graham’s Foundation is hosting Parents of Preemies Day on March 10. The free event will be held at the Health Care REIT campus, 4500 Dorr St., from noon to 3 p.m.
Parents of Preemies Day is a “national day of awareness to recognize the courage and commitment of preemie parents,” said Erin McPartland, executive director of Graham’s Foundation. It is an outreach for parents of premature babies, but is open to everyone.
“It can be a very difficult journey to go through,” McPartland said. “We just don’t know sometimes how to react and how to provide support.”
The day is designed to be similar to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, McPartland said.
“We wanted the day to say, ‘You know what? You are strong, you are committed, you went through this journey,’” McPartland said.
Since it started last year, Parents of Preemies Day has received national attention and became a worldwide event. In just one day, the Facebook page grew by 3,000 followers, McPartland said. Events will be hosted by volunteers in Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Boston. Each location will sponsor a different event, but all will feature a brunch, children’s activities and life-coaching experts. The event will also invite parents to share their own stories during the brunch.
In addition, there will be social media pieces for people not able to make it to the event. From 2 to 3 p.m., there will be a Twitter event with Alexa Stevenson, author of “Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn and How We Both Learned to Breathe.”
“Prematurity is something that is not widely talked about,” McPartland said. “So what happens is, parents go into this preemie journey and they just don’t know what to expect.”
The Halls and Buchers will be at the Toledo event, which is sponsored by The Elizabeth Scott Community, a family-owned assisted- and independent-living nursing care facility where Bucher is director of marketing.
For more information, visit grahamsfoundation.org.