Paul Holliman, Matt Kalavsky and Samantha Black visit the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, IL


Exhibitors and members of the Neonatal Grants Committee recently had the opportunity to see firsthand the impact they are making through their fundraising work with Brave Beginnings – providing lifesaving neonatal equipment to newborns in critical need.

Earlier this month, Neonatal Grants Committee member Paul Holliman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures), along with colleagues Matt Kalavsky and Samantha Black, toured the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, IL. Brave Beginnings awarded the hospital a $23,576.00 grant to cover the purchase of an Airborne 750i Neonatal Transport Incubator. “This equipment plays an important role, allowing the low birth­weight infants to spend time with their mother, and allows this Level II NICU to keep infants at the hospital when they may otherwise need to be transported to a Level III. The benefit of keeping the mother and infant together is tremendous,” said Holliman.

Belinda Judson (NATO), who is also a member of the Neonatal Grants Committee, recently visited Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, ME. Brave Beginnings allocated Eastern Maine a $45,000 grant to fund an A­EEG Cooling Machine and two Neopuff Infant Resuscitators. Judson said, “While I am always thrilled when our Brave Beginnings committee is able to award any hospital a grant for neonatal equipment, there is nothing more moving than a visit to your hometown hospital after they have been chosen as a grant recipient.” She added, “Being fully aware of the economic struggles of the state of Maine, I thought I had some idea of how much the grant might mean to the Eastern Maine Medical Center. However, in hind sight, I had no clue.”

Eastern Maine is only one of two hospitals in the state that have a Level III NICU. Maine is a large state geographically, so that means that the EMMC has to serve a very large region. Neonatal equipment is not included in the unit’s annual operating budget, so the equipment has to come through raising funds. Judson added, “While the unit was getting some new space in the hospital (badly needed as the entire unit was squished into a very small space), they were still in dire need of some new equipment.”

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Belinda Judson (right) tours Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC

Judson also toured another Brave Beginnings grantee hospital, Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC. She was joined by Bow Tie Cinemas employees Anna Carr, Dan Herrle, Kenya Jackson, Kelcie Jones, Brian Lutrey, Parthiv Patel, Michael Porter and Brenda Williams. Brave Beginnings awarded the hospital a $32,601 grant for the purchase of 10 Giraffe Blue LED Spot Phototherapy Lights which aid in treating Hyperbilirubinemia, a common disorder in premature infants that occurs when too much bilirubin builds up in their blood. “Everyone was truly inspired by the experience, and I’m sure the managers are going to try that much harder. Just knowing how the money is spent shows that their fundraising really makes a difference,” said Herrle.


Bow Tie Cinemas employees Kenya Jackson, Dan Herrle, Brenda Williams and Brian Lutrey join Tara Floyd (NICU manager) and Dr. Lamia Soghier for a tour of
Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC

Last week, Brave Beginnings’ Executive Director Todd Vradenburg, along with Steve Olson of Marcus Cinema, toured St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, WI. The hospital received a $25,000 grant from Brave Beginnings towards the purchase of a Giraffe Omnibed, replacing a unit that was purchased back in the 90s. This equipment will enable St. Elizabeth’s tiniest NICU patients to stay in a thermally controlled environment at all times without having to endure the stress of being transferred from bed to bed. Not only is this developmentally supportive environment critical to the health of the baby, it also provides their family members with the reassurance of knowing that their child will not have to undergo further unnecessary stress.


Steve Olson and Todd Vradenburg tour St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, WI


For more information on our grantee hospitals, please visit:

Children’s National Health System
Eastern Maine Medical Center
Little Company of Mary Hospital
St. Elizabeth Hospital