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Party with a Purpose

Mat, Charlie and Miriam

Carly Gray’s pregnancy was relatively normal, and she was excited to welcome her first child. But at 26 weeks, she began to feel uncomfortable. A quick middle-of-the-night internet search alerted her to the possibility of premature labor. The symptoms continued to intensify, so Carly and her husband, Rick, rushed to the emergency room. Doctors spent the day trying to stop labor, but they were unsuccessful; Teigan was born via C-section 14 weeks premature, weighing just two pounds. He spent the first 111 days of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit, where he overcame numerous challenges. “Looking at him today, you would never know what he endured,” Carly says.

Carly’s second pregnancy shared similarities with her first. At just 17 weeks, early labor required that she be placed on bed rest. Because of the vertical incision from Teigan’s C-section birth, doctors performed a C-section again, this time at 36 weeks. Their tiny daughter, Palmer, spent nearly three weeks intubated in the NICU at Rady Children’s as her lungs matured and grew stronger.

Teigan and Palmer, now 8 and 6, respectively, have birthdays just 12 days apart. Their parents have hosted a joint party ever since Palmer was born. “Our kids have everything they need,” Carly says, “so each year we throw a party and, in lieu of bringing presents for the kids, we encourage friends and family to support our quest to make a difference in the lives of other young children and their families.”

 

This year alone, generous friends and family helped to raise more than $1,700 to support Rady Children’s. Since Teigan’s first philanthropic birthday celebration, the Grays have donated more than $10,000 to Rady Children’s and UC San Diego. Teigan personally experienced the benefit of funds like these during a recent four-night admission to Rady Children’s. “Even though he was feeling miserable, our accommodations were wonderful,” Carly says. “There were toys for him to choose from, and an Xbox system was brought into his room. He had never played one before, so that was really special for him. There were so many things at the Hospital made possible by donors, and our kids are proud to celebrate their birthdays by raising funds to help make Hospital stays better for other kids.”

Originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of Healthy Kids Magazine