KC child wins national contest

Nine-month-old Jude Schinzel of Kansas City, Kan., was named the winner in the 7 to 12 months age category of the Preemie Power Photo and Essay Contest. “Jude the Ad’vent’turer” was born at 31 weeks gestation weighing 4 pounds, including a 10-ounce tumor, at birth. He spent 111 days in the NICU.

"Before Jude was even born, he had to demonstrate super hero abilities to survive, " said Jude's mom, Tracy Schinzel. "Doctors told us that less than 1% of babies born have oral teratomas and of those babies a finite few are born with a teratoma as large as Jude’s."

Hand to Hold, a nonprofit that supports parents of preemies and babies born with special health care needs, announced the winners of its third annual Preemie Power Photo and Essay Contest on World Prematurity Day, November 17. The top winner, four-year-old Adeline Droegemueller, from San Antonio, and who was born at 26 weeks gestation weighing 1 pound 8 ounces, was selected as this year’s Preemie of the Year Overall Winner. Her family was awarded the Neotech Making a Difference Trip of a Lifetime to Disneyland.

The Contest brought together 187 families from 46 states and five Canadian provinces and from as far away as Hawaii. The contest gave families an opportunity to share the heart-warming stories of their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit graduates and the milestones they have achieved.

In the United States, nearly half a million babies, about eight each day, are born too early (before 37 weeks gestation). Worldwide 15 million babies are born too soon each year. Premature birth is traumatic and a leading cause of permanent disability and death, yet many of these babies persevere against all odds.

“We organized Preemie Power to raise awareness not only of preterm birth, but the challenges so many preemies face during and after a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit stay,” said Kelli Kelley, founder and Executive Director of Hand to Hold and mother of two preemies. “These amazing little super heroes have overcome so much during their first days, weeks and months of life. They are resilient, amazing kids who have the ability to teach us all important life lessons about courage, strength and finding the joy in little things!”

Celebrity judges included Texas Children’s Hospital Neonatologist and star of TLC’s Little People Dr. Jennifer Arnold; Maureen Doolan Boyle, executive director of New York-based Mothers of Super Twins and mother of triplets; Kansas City neonatologist and author of For the Love of Babies, Dr. Sue Hall; Omaha-based author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights, pediatrician and parenting expert Dr. Laura Jana; and Duke University School of Nursing Clinical Instructor, Research Project Manager and Clinical NICU Nurse Donna J. Ryan, MSN, RN.

About Hand to Hold Hand to Hold, a nonprofit organization, provides comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. Based in Austin, Hand to Hold supports families nationwide through its peer matching program and educational materials and programs. For more information, visit www.handtohold.org.

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