DES MOINES, Iowa — He may not know it yet, but 1-week-old Keegan is one of U of I’s biggest fans. Thanks to Holding Tiny Hands, he didn’t miss out on any of the game’s action.
Tiny Holding Hands, a Des Moines nonprofit, was created in 2010 with the goal of connecting families who find themselves in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). This year the organization decided to bring the much anticipated Cy-Hawk game to the NICU at Mercy One Des Moines.
“There were a lot of moms and dads, brothers and sisters, that thought they were going to miss out because they wanted to be here … but they were happy that we brought it here,” said co-founder Bob Selby.
Families were treated to a unique tailgate experience complete with all the fixings. The organization was also able to bring in a large television for the event, which the hospital was able to accommodate just outside the NICU wing.
“They had flyers up a few days ago and started telling everyone who was coming and going,” said Keegan’s dad, Josh Miille. “If we are going to be here all day, it’s nice to break up the atmosphere here.”
Selby knows from experience that families in the NICU give up all of their free time to be there for their children. Helping Tiny Hands is meant to bridge the gap for families who may feel isolated during this time.
“There are a lot of events that take place on Saturdays and Sundays that our families can’t participate in because they have small babies in the NICU,” said Selby. “We decided to bring some of the outside world here so that they wouldn’t have to leave the side of their NICU babies and they could enjoy a little bit of fun and fellowship.”
With so many families enjoying the tailgate, the organization has decided to make this an annual event. Holding Tiny Hands also hosts monthly dinners and various events at the NICU to bring families together as a support group for those who want to take part.
“They are taking care of as many needs as possible, you know, in spite of the situation,” said Miille. “You’re not at home, you’re not where you are most comfortable, but they do the best to make sure that you are.”
For more information on Holding Tiny Hands, visit their website.