At the end of October I received an email out of the blue from a woman named Liz. She was writing on behalf of AT&T with a proposal for a huge donation to honor Maddie’s fifth birthday. As I read through her email, my mouth dropped open and tears came to my eyes…it was one of the few times in my life where I really, truly have been speechless.

Liz’s proposed donation was to enhance the support packs Friends of Maddie already offers. They wanted to add three things to the pack, and I will quote from her email to show how amazingly thoughtful they were:

  1. Each Family Pack would now include an iFrogz Boost Plus speaker system.
    • Studies have shown that babies in the NICU who have music played for them regularly respond and thrive better than babies who do not. This device amplifies the audio from the speakers in a smart phone or digital music player without cables or syncing. No need to configure any wireless settings or plug-in cables, simply set your device on the Boost Plus Speaker and enjoy room filling sound.
  2. Each Family Pack would now include a Bluetooth headset.
    • With so much commuting back and forth to the hospital and so many phone calls to be made with nurses, doctors, family members, etc. – now families can take those calls from the road safely.
  3. Each Family Pack would now include a universal wall/back-up battery.
    • With so many hours spent in the NICU, this charger could stay at the NICU (or in the car) so that parents can keep their devices charged and not worry about packing their usual charger for every trip. NICU families are constantly on the go. They’re not only driving back and forth to the hospital, but also to and from work, and trying to do all the other household responsibilities, like grocery shopping and taking other children to daycare, school or activities. A back-up battery will help ensure that the family command center (i.e their mobile phone) is always up and running.

But this wasn’t even everything – they also wanted to give one more amazing item to the NICUs we currently work with:

  1. Provide company issued tablets to each of the hospitals that participate in the Friends of Maddie organization.
    • Each tablet would become property of the NICU and would be for use only by families in the NICU. Tablets can also take high quality photos and video so that families without access to smartphones or digital cameras can still record and share these special moments in their life.

In all, the donation was well over $20,000 – and it was no-strings-attached. Liz, the amazing driving force behind the donation, had a son in the NICU so she knew first-hand what it’s like to have what should be the happiest day of your life take a terrifying turn. It was her spirit and AT&T’s generosity that made the whole donation happen. Friends of Maddie has worked with many companies, but we’ve never, ever had one of them want absolutely nothing from us. It was amazing.

After tons of paperwork (there is just sooo much paperwork with non-profits), about 25 boxes of product showed up at our mailbox. The foyer of our house is stacked to the brim! As Mike and I slowly put together bags for our first super-drop, we kept saying how much we and Maddie would have benefited from some of these items. We couldn’t wait to deliver them, and since this donation was in honor of Maddie’s birthday, we started at Maddie’s NICU at UCLA.

ready for donation
Ready to be delivered.

the contents of the super bags
The bags, plus the unit’s new dedicated tablet.

My parents came along to help make the delivery. Since the bags were heavier than usual, they insisted on carrying all of them! They are seriously loaded down here with thirty-five bags between them:

Carrying the super bags

The NICU director and asst. director were expecting us (and knew about the super-bags) but the rest of the staff had no idea the bags were extra-special. They were THRILLED about the bags, and blown away by the tablet – it’s going to make such a difference for so many families. We always let the nurses distribute the bags. I know from experience that when you’re spending time with your baby in the unit, you don’t want to interact with a ton of people. Your baby is your number one priority.

Over the next two months we’re going to be sending these super-bags out to the NICUs we work with most often. We could not be more thrilled to do something extra-special in Maddie’s name. Thank you a million times to Liz and AT&T, and happy belated birthday to my girl.