Maumee Basketball Players Donate To Local NICU For The Holidays

Maumee seventh-grade girls basketball players show off the books they donated to the Hillabrand Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at ProMedica Russel J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital. PHOTO COURTESY OF JUSTIN LAU

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee girls seventh-grade basketball students met with staff at the Hillabrand Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital on December 14 to deliver books and special pajamas for the families at the hospital this holiday season.

It’s a cause close to the heart of coach Justin Lau, who spent two months at the NICU with his son, who was born in spring of 2022.

“We, specifically my wife, were there pretty much 24/7. We were there for Easter and my wife spent her first Mother’s Day in the NICU,” Lau said. “During that time, we received cards, books, small gifts that may seem small and insignificant, but those small things could be the bright spot in our day.”

For Lau and his wife, who both love Christmas, the idea of families spending this holiday season in the NICU without some small, thoughtful gifts, was unimaginable.

Lau knew there was a way he could help bring those bright spots to the families currently in the unit. He also knew he could help the young girls on the basketball team learn about service and how small actions can have a big impact.

“I hope they see that they have the ability to make a positive impact on others individually or as part of a larger group,” Lau said. “The purpose of making the donation in person is to make the experience more tangible and hopefully more meaningful for the girls so that they leave there with a feeling that they maybe never experienced before, but like it enough that they want to seek out that feeling again.”

Together, the teammates and their coach delivered 260 books, including 50 copies of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas and 50 copies of All You Need for a Snowman, along with 17 pairs of Little Sleepies pajamas.

Lau’s original goal was to donate 100 books, enough to give one book to each family in the NICU for the month of December, but the fundraising exceeded that expectation.

Because of Lau’s personal connection to the project, he had placed the responsibility of fundraising mostly on himself. However, he also challenged the girls to each try to collect enough money for five books, or $25.00.

He found additional support from an unnamed Genoa-area business and Savage & Associates, particularly Kyle Schimming.

With generous donations from Maumee-area residents and businesses, Lau knew they had enough to provide a significant donation to the NICU.

He contacted Amanda Ziehr, the lead director of the NICU, who explained the importance of the books, which will be supplied for patients during their stay.

“These books will be given to the family members so they can read to their babies while in the NICU. Families are also invited to take the books home with them. Reading is an excellent way to bond with your baby when they may have limited mobility while in the NICU,” Ziehr said. “Donations around the holiday season also brighten the families’ day during what can be a difficult time.”

She said the NICU was grateful for the donations, which can provide support in the advancement of patient-centered programs, new equipment and patient assistance.

Those who are interested in providing support for the families can visit promedica.org/giving to learn more.

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