On September 13, 2020, We will be participating in the Third Annual NICU STRONG Walk. This walk will be held VIRTUALLY! All money raised will support the vital equipment and patient and family needs of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Hackensack Meridian Health Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital.

We decided to support this amazing cause because of our daughters Mia and Mikayla. Mia and Mikayla were born on July 26, 2015, 12 weeks premature. Giselle had an emergency c section and Mikayla was born at 6:53 am weighing 2lbs 6 oz and Mia was born at 6:53 am weighing 1lb 15 oz. They were immediately intubated and put in an isolet and sent to the Nicu where their 70 (Mikayla) and 78 (Mia) day stay began.

The Nicu is a scary place. It’s not a place you expect to be and it’s a roller coaster while you are there. Our girls had numerous issues they had breathing issues, feeding issues, open pda, and hernia surgeries. Along with many of the day to day issues in the Nicu. We stayed strong though and were with our daughters countless hours a day. The staff at Hackensack Nicu went above and beyond not only for our daughters but for us. We owe them so much and are extremely grateful for saving our little miracles Mia and and Mikayla.

Mikayla was discharged on October 4, 2015 and 8 days later on October 12, 2015 Mia was discharged and we were finally home as a family of 4. Our journey didn’t truly end though we had many doctors visits and issues that needed to be addressed. We saw pediatricians, cardiologists, eye doctors, physical therapists, hearing doctors and developmental specialists all in the first year of their life. But our stay in the Nicu had made us the strongest possible beings we could be. We were NICUSTRONG and we could get through anything.

Today our girls are 4 1/2 years old and they are doing amazing. They are starting Kindergarten in the fall. They are sweet, funny, energetic, fun loving and feisty as can be! They are NICUSTRONG, we are NICUSTRONG.

In the fall of 2016 we had contact with one of the Neonatologists who asked if we would be interested in being part of a family council for the Nicu and help other families in the nicu. We loved the idea. We begin our volunteering in January 2017 and have had monthly meetings with other members of the council along with several projects to help parents. We are part of a peer to peer program where we talk to other families in the unit and help them get through the roller coaster of the Nicu. We have helped with the bi-annual kangarooathon and we went to a conference in Chicago to learn how families can be part of patient care and their role in the Nicu.

We came up with the idea to have a walk after the conference and Hackensack University Medical Center helped make it happen.

We hope that you will join us VIRTUALLY at the NICUSTRONG event on September 13, 2020 and help raise money for the NICU. It’s a place no family ever wants to go but when you are there you have no choice but to be NICUSTRONG.

Thank you in advance from the bottom of our hearts
Joe and Giselle Mongiello
parents of 28 weekers Mia and Mikayla

*The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admits about 940 newborns each year, so the need is great for innovative treatment and care. Approximately 80 newborns weigh less than 1,500 grams (that is approximately 3lbs., 5oz!). To address their medical needs, the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital provides an array of services including hyper alimentation (intravenous nutrition), mechanical ventilation, body cooling for newborns and more for the best possible outcome and to help these newborns grow happy and healthy.
Please consider supporting me with a meaningful amount – $25, $50, $100 or any amount – will make a significant difference!

Thank you for your generosity and support. Together we can make a difference for these families and babies!!


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