Perrysburg family to be honored by Graham’s FoundationWritten by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
Perrysburg residents Jim and Blair Nooney were living in Miami when their daughter Lilly was born two months early. Lilly spent 35 days in the neonatal intensive care unit before going home, and even then, she suffered reflux and feeding challenges and had an apnea monitor.
The worst part was the Nooneys were separated from their families during the ordeal.
“It was a very difficult time for us and we didn’t have a family down there or a support system,” Blair Nooney said. “Being a parent of a preemie, you don’t really understand or can’t really relate unless you’ve been through it somehow. … It would’ve been helpful for me and I think hopefully helpful for others to have other people around. You know, you’re not alone and other people have been through it. People come out on the other end and it all works out.”
The Nooneys are using that outlook to inspire others in similar situations: the couple will be named the 2014 Graham’s Foundation Ambassador Family, the first to receive the title. They will be honored at the Graham’s Foundation’s winter fundraiser Power to Grow on Feb. 20 at Mancy’s Steaks, 953 Phillips Ave.
As the ambassador family, the Nooneys will promote the organization in their community and share their story at upcoming events.
Nick Hall, who founded the Graham’s Foundation with his wife Jennifer, met the Nooneys when they attended the organization’s Parents of Preemies Day event last year. They two couples realized their similar experiences, which included living far from their families while being in the hospital. The Halls were living in California when their son, Graham, was born prematurely.
“Both of our families got to really appreciate how important family is through our mutual experience of having our babies born prematurely,” Nick Hall said.
The Nooneys became involved in the organization shortly after attending the event.
“We got to know them, they got to know us, they got to better understand the foundation and what we want to accomplish,” Hall said. “They really wanted to get behind our efforts and help support us and our cause. … They’ve really done a great job inviting their friends and family and community to join us.”
Graham’s Foundation is a Watervill-based nonprofit organization that works to offer resources, programs and connections to parents of premature babies nationwide. It was founded in 2009 after the Halls experienced heartache with Graham, who died after 45 days. It also offers parent-to-parent support through a resource phone line. All of these features are volunteer-run.
“Prematurity is something that is not widely talked about,” Executive Director Erin McPartland said. “So what happens is, parents go into this preemie journey, and they just don’t know what to expect.”
The organization also assembles and sends care packages to parents of premature babies. Graham’s Foundation has thousands of packages, designed with the unique needs of parents of premature babies.
“When we thought of the idea of an ambassador family, there were several that we had in mind so I’d like to say that we have some other families in the pipeline in the future,” Hall said. “This was the first family we asked and they said, ‘Yes’ right away.”