Every year roughly half a million babies born in the United States end up in the NICU, some for days and others for months. Most parents will do anything they can to be by their child’s side as much as possible, but what if money was the main issue preventing you from being there?
Carrie Meghie of Chicago, Illinois, was a regular at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago when her son Jackson was born at 31 weeks with underdeveloped lungs. She and her husband visited their son every single day of his almost 10-month stay, until he tragically passed away in 2012.
After the first month, the couple was shocked when they discovered they had spent nearly $2,000 on parking alone. Lurie is located in downtown Chicago, and like many city hospitals does not have its own parking facilities, leaving family members to pay a premium at third party garages.
Shortly after Jackson’s death, they vowed to carry on his name in a unique way and to help others prohibited from seeing their children due to financial restraints.
“After Jackson passed my husband Terry and I immediately knew we wanted to do something to honor him,” Meghie explains to Babble about the history of the Jackson Chance Foundation, which provides complimentary parking at Lurie to over 500 families every year.
“Jackson was so happy and truly brought us more joy in 10 months than we could hope for in a lifetime. We know that the fact that we could be there with him all day, each and every day greatly contributed to his happiness. Our goal is to provide this opportunity for other babies.”
Since 2013, Meghie has raised over $1.5 million through her foundation, and was recently named a CNN Hero for her accomplishments.
And she doesn’t intend on slowing down.
Currently the NICU Transportation Program is only at Lurie Children’s Hospital, but she hopes to expand the program to Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital, a 90-bed unit twice the size of Lurie Children’s, and where Jackson spent four months of his life.
Despite being donned a hero by one of the most prestigious network’s in the nation, Meghie explains that the honor is “bittersweet.”
“My dedication to the Jackson Chance Foundation is my way of being Jackson’s mother. I’m taking care of his legacy as I would have taken care of him if still with us. I am truly honored and grateful for the opportunity for the foundation.”
She concludes: “I don’t feel like a hero, I’m just being Jackson’s mom.”
Sounds pretty heroic to us, Carrie.