More than 1,000 people from Michigan’s mitten gathered to celebrate their individual and collective neonatal intensive care journeys this past weekend.
Therapy dogs, a petting zoo and a bounce house made Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s NICU Reunion one filled with laughter and fun.
Children made animal-themed headbands, snagged temporary animals tattoos, cuddled with dogs from the West Michigan Therapy Dogs, had their faces painted, took zany pictures in a photo booth, visited with animals from the Critter Barn, fished in a pond and jumped in a bounce house.
Grand Rapids resident LaSheena Vaughn watched as her 3-year-old daughter, Violet, led the circle of kids playing music with a toy guitar. Violet was born early at 3 pounds, 4 ounces.
“We come to this every year to keep the memories so we can show Violet when she gets older,” LaShenna said as she looked down at a shirt she made that shows a picture of Violet when she was first born, next to a picture of her today. “She’s tiny, but she’s a fighter.”