Then there were 3 BUT the road wasn't so easy... Meet the Wills Family

Written by the Wills Family
Friday, February 23, 2018

Then there was 3 BUT the road wasn't so easy...

Meet the Wills Family

Romans 5:3-4

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance: perseverance, character; and character, hope. 

My relationship with CHOG began when I gave birth to our 3rd little girl, at 32 weeks, on September 5th, 2017. What was supposed to be one of the happiest times of our lives became one of the scariest. Hampton was born at University Hospital, but was transferred to CHOG NICU 3 days later. She was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia. Little did we know this would be her home for the next 8 weeks. Although it was a very overwhelming place, we found comfort in the doctors and nurses who took care of Hampton. 

Over the course of 8 weeks you watch many families come and go. We got to know some of the families who had a child in the NICU and learned many of them were not from Augusta. Listening to their constant fear of being unfamiliar with this area and having no family nearby, Bob and I realized how blessed we were to have such easy access to CHOG. Having a one and two year old at home, the daily trips to and from CHOG were made less stressful as the commute was minimal for us. We also were humbled by the many doctors and nurses we know in the community who specialize in children’s care and made sure we were taken care of at all times. 

We became friends with an out of town couple who had given birth to their first child a few weeks early, very similar to Hampton. They told us how alone and scared they were when they first arrived at CHOG, but quickly settled in thanks to the amazing staff at CHOG and the Ronald McDonald House. It warms the heart to know that out of town couples are so well taken care of and that makes us Augusta natives proud.

Hampton was discharged in October, but unfortunately returned to CHOG in December for 10 days when she was diagnosed with RSV. It was a very traumatic experience for our family, but little H persevered. The nurses and doctors in the PICU took great care of us. 

It hurts the heart to know that others in the future will have similar experiences with their precious child, but knowing that there is somewhere to turn to like CHOG should bring comfort and HOPE! You never realize how important a place like this can be until you need it. We are so incredibly grateful for this hospital and everything they have done and continue to do for our Hampton. Thank you Heart and Sole for all you do for CHOG, and the families who need it!

There is No foot too Small...


Written by Ali and Barrett Alibritton
Sunday, February 21, 2016

"There is NO foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this World."---author unknown.

Meet The Albrittons

Barret and I met Ben, Carrie, Casey and Don while we were in Macon for law school. Over the last sixteen years, their families have become much like family to us. In fact, on the day that Bowen was born, we were at the beach with Don and Casey awaiting the arrival of baby Bowen and praying for our other friends who had just given birth to premature triplets. Our joy soon turned to worry and to a time of prayer as Bowen and the triplets were all taken to the ICU in Augusta as the little ones fought for their lives.

Little did we know that sweet Bowen, only thirteen days after blessing Ben and Carrie with her presence, would leave her physical body to become the sweet angel we celebrate every year at Heart and Sole. We will never forget sitting in the sanctuary at the celebration of Bowen’s life and the heart break we were feeling for Ben and Carrie. Sitting there praying for the triplets’ parents and for Ben and Carrie, we had a moment that we will never forget. "Jesus Loves Me" played and, while so brokenhearted for our friends, the words took on a very special meaning for Barret and I. We can’t help but know the words and the sentiment of Jesus’ love are what helped Ben and Carrie through the greatest loss they had ever experienced. Watching Ben and Carrie’s love and strength during that time showed Barret and I how to love through our own losses, how to have faith in God and how to lean on one another during the hard times.
"There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this World."---author unknown.

Eleven years ago, we had no idea that a life so small would leave such a big imprint on our lives. Bowen McElreath, through the help of her amazing family, left and continues to leave imprints on this World. Every year hundreds gather in Augusta along with friends and family to continue a movement that was formed in order to bring joy, love, and light to the sweet babies in need at the medical center. The love, the friendships, and the celebration of life bring us back every year and we cannot imagine spending the first weekend in March anywhere but Augusta, GA. We feel fortunate to be a part of the wonderful celebration that has become sweet Bowen’s legacy.

*Ali and Barrett reside in Chattanooga. Barrett attended Mercer University Law School with Ben McElreath where this group from law school attends Heart and Sole EVERY year! You will see them on the dance floor soon!



And LOVE is the Greatest of These Things

Written by The Handberry Family
Monday, February 15, 2016

And the GREATEST of these is LOVE...

The McElreaths and The Handberrys are first cousins but they were raised very close, more like siblings. As a close knit family there were many exciting times shared together and one the of the VERY BEST was welcoming a new family member. Little did they know that the birth of precious Bowen meant that their family was about to grow SO MUCH more....

Meet the Handberrys

If one word could be a mirror to reflect the emotion that I feel when it comes to Heart and Sole, my word is simple....LOVE.
On July 5th of 2005, our precious Bowen came into this world and the love and excitement that filled the room was undeniable! She was an answer to so many prayers and we were all "over the moon" with joyful hearts! The days that followed were a roller coaster of moments and emotions ranging from hope to happiness to worry and yes, sadness....Yet, even in the darkest of times, LOVE prevailed.
You see, the love of Jesus was ever present during this journey. It was there when Benjamin and Carrie gave Bowen to Jesus through baptism and He was there in the waiting room at the Children’s Hospital as we all prayed, not only for Bowen, but with strangers who all shared a special bond and desperate need... the need for a miracle. Jesus’ love was present as He used the amazingly talented and compassionate doctors, nurses and therapists who treated Bowen and offered support and guidance. LOVE was there every step of the way as friends became the hands and feet of Jesus and that same love was present the night Jesus took Bowen home as He held our brokenness in His hands. His perfect plan was to use Bowen’s short life in a wonderful way...and it gave birth to Heart and Sole.
The LOVE that Bowen’s family shares is strong and unwavering. It’s a testimony of hope and faith and using heartache to help bring healing to others. It’s what YOU do when you become a supporter of Heart and Sole. YOU become part of our family. So whether you love to run, love to have fun, love to support a wonderful cause, or love Bowen’s precious family...Heart and Sole is the place to be! Through this journey of life there is one truth I know for certain: LOVE ALWAYS WINS!

Lots of love,
Casey and Don Handberry

"For these three, hope and love, but the greatest of these is LOVE"1Cor. 13:13

*Casey and Don reside in Macon, Georgia with 3 awesome boys who LOVE to play baseball and play with their cousins, Benjamin and Hughes. 

Beyond the Borders of Augusta

Written by The Cawley Family
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Beyond the Borders of Augusta....

It is so hard to wrap my brain around the idea that we are about to CELEBRATE the 10th Anniversary of Heart & Sole. But we are and we are SUPER excited about it!! 
Heart and Sole supports the Children's Hospital of Georgia but as you all know by now... Heart & Sole affects families from EVERYWHERE because the CHOG serves so many. Bowen was transported from Macon to Augusta in July 2005. Even though our family was originally from Augusta and Bowen wasn't a current resident of Augusta, we soon found ourselves a part of the NICU and CHOG family!

As part of the 10 year celebration... I will be sharing what Heart and Sole means to so many dear friends and why they LOVE and support Heart and Sole!
Please take the time to read these stories over the next few weeks, SEARCH your heart and GIVE back on Saturday, March 5th to Heart and Sole. We promise you that it is worth the donation and your time!

I look forward to seeing each of you on March 5th!

Meet the Cawleys

Jesus Loves Me This I Know.....we knew the day we heard this song at Bowen’s funeral, we would never hear it the same again. There will be things in this life that we do not understand and that is where we put our ultimate faith in Christ. We trust that He knows way better than we do. Watching our dear friends, Carrie and Ben, completely depend on the Lord to heal their hearts and show them His will in their lives has been a privilege. Heart and Sole has been a huge ministry to so many not only in the Children’s Hospital, but also to many of us who love to spend the first weekend in March in Augusta. Through the work of Stacey, we have seen first-hand how a sister, who loves with all her heart, wants to take a tragedy and turn it into a chance to make a difference. We look forward to Heart and Sole every year. It is a chance to visit with friends, enjoy fun restaurants and great shops, participate in a great race, relax, and spend the night dancing to great music in a beautiful atmosphere. At the same time, it is also a weekend each year to remember why we are here. Being a part of Heart and Sole is an opportunity to help other children who have special hearts. It is a way to carry on the memory of Baby Bowen by loving and serving others which is what God has called us to do. He is continuing to use Bowen’s life, year after year, in many ways. It is a beautiful reminder to all of us that Yes, Jesus loves us, for The Bible tells us so!!!

All our love,
Courtney and Chris Cawley
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. -1Corinthians 16:24

*Courtney and Chris reside in Macon, Georgia with 4 beautiful children. Chris is a Pediatrician at Primary Pediatrics (Platinum Sponsor of Heart & Sole) and Chris was also Bowen's doctor at the Children's Hospital in Macon, Ga. 

On the Flip Side of Things - 2015

Written by Stacey Garner
Friday, February 27, 2015

On the Flip Side of Things - 2105

If you asked me nine years ago what Heart and Sole meant... I would tell you it was about family.
For me, it meant having Bowen’s memory live on through helping other children. My family had become part of the Children’s Hospital family through Bowen’s life and we were forever grateful.

Facing your fears is as tough as it sounds and for me, this happened this past September. Walking into the Children’s Hospital and down the hallways with my own daughter to be treated was a huge fear of mine... This is not because I feared her treatment or the outcome of her simple tests, but because I feared the emotions that I had tucked away deep inside after losing my niece, Bowen. Almost 10 years ago, I made the long walk down the same hallways to collect Bowen’s blanket and remaining items after she passed away. I can remember my dear friend, who was Bowen’s nurse in the NICU holding me as I sobbed. I remember the pain like it was yesterday. I feared this pain and I asked for Him to give me peace within.

The morning had come for me to take Baby Caroline in for a few simple tests that her pediatrician had ordered. On the way to the Children's Hospital, I could feel the emotions starting to rise within me so I called my friend Catherine Stewart and asked her to meet me in the lobby so we could walk this hallway together. Catherine knew about this fear of mine and as the glass doors opened in the lobby – there she was waiting. We didn’t say much as we walked together but having her beside me was exactly what I needed.

Baby Caroline’s name was called and to the back I went. The nurse gave me a tiny little gown and asked me to undress her into it. The very minute the nurse walked out of the room my tears began to slowly flow down my face. I tried SO hard to fight them but looking at my daughter in the tiny gown and with all of the big machines around... my deep down emotions began to surface and my tears started to pour out. We had such a kind nurse that kept assuring me that everything was going to be ok.... I felt so lost and alone but I couldn’t explain to her that it wasn’t Caroline that I was crying for. As we were wrapping up her tests, I heard a familiar voice. Around the corner Dr. Robyn Hatley appeared. He had come to check in on us.

He could see I had been crying and I am sure that he knew I was hurting. It was quite visible. He whispered to me that I wasn’t alone and he waited for me to get Caroline dressed and in her carrier. He leaned down, picked up Caroline and together we walked down that LONG, grey hallway.

As I got into my car in the Children’s Hospital parking deck... Baby Caroline had fallen asleep and I literally fell apart. I sat in my car and cried as hard at that moment, as when I had collected Bowen’s belongings. I faced my fear on the flip side ~ not as Bowen’s aunt but as Caroline’s mommy. And most importantly, I didn’t do this alone. I did it with my CMC family. Nine years later, I can tell you that Heart and Sole has the same meaning to me... family.

As an aunt to precious Benjamin and Hughes, I ask you to join us... in their sister, Bowen’s memory.
As a mommy to a healthy baby, I ask you to join us... to honor OUR Children’s Hospital. (Yes Baby Caroline will be there & ready)
As a friend to those that have lost their children, I ask you to join us... in the memory of their sweet angels.
As a person that faced her fears head on, I ask you to join us... At Heart and Sole, you are not alone... We are family.

I hope to see you on March 7th

The Heart and Sole of Anderson

Written by Chris Schiffbauer
Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Heart and Sole of Anderson

If this story doesn't have you lacing up your shoes....
The Heart & Sole of Anderson Schiffbauer
Meet Chris Schiffbauer....

On January 23rd, 2012, my wife (Blair) and I met the biggest tragedy we have ever experienced in life. At full term birth, my son, Anderson was born 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 23 inches long. He was such a big boy! Unfortunately he only lived on this earth for 3 hours and 25 minutes. As I sat in the bereavement room with Anderson, Blair was in a post-op recovery room with her life shattered as well. She was unable to leave that recovery room but I made sure of it that I took Anderson for her to hold him before the inevitable occurred, before he passed away in other words.

As I sat in this bereavement room alone with my first and only son, Anderson who had passed at this point, a feeling came over me that I had never felt before. My heart was broken. I cried helplessly but this feeling broke my heart even more. As this intense feeling did its number on me, it became even more intense. I felt that it completely broke my heart, took everything bad I have ever had in it, pulled it dry essentially. But as I felt this, I started to feel extremely different. As if everything that was taken from my heart was replenished by love, joy, safety and happiness. I feel to this day that I was touched by the Holy Spirit. Sounds like craziness right? Keep reading.
We had a beautiful Funeral for Anderson. So many people from the community reached out to us but I didn’t feel that we needed anything. So with this new found strength that I had received, I decided that we would have a flower drive for my son on the day that we put him to rest. I made it publicly known.

To my surprise, we received over 150 flower arrangements from all over the United States. All in support of Anderson. I had already had plans for these flowers the day after we put our son to rest. We delivered them personally to each nursing home in Augusta with a simple note attached that read, "From our angel Anderson". We saw so many bright smiles that day. He had touched their lives.

After Blair was released from the hospital, she began to get terribly sick. Not mentally. I took the car seat from her car before she was discharged, I put the strollers and everything else that was set up and ready to go for our baby in his nursery and simply closed the door so she wouldn’t have to see it when she was home. Life was hard enough for her. She was physically sick.
We took her back to the hospital and she was admitted with a very strong intrauterine infection as a post-op complication from her emergency cesarean section with Anderson. The word hysterectomy kept coming up in our discussions in the hospital. That is a crushing word to a parent who just lost their first and only son. But my hope and renewed faith would not let me down.

Blair was in the hospital for a month on that stent. Our infectious disease specialist felt that it was ok to take her home from the hospital after such a long stay. We were both sincerely excited but it was a provisional discharge in which Blair would have PICC-Line antibiotics administered several times a day to rid her body of the infection that she had. My optimism spilled over onto her but as any human being could imagine, we were both crumbling from within but we never lost faith. It seemed that our tragedy would never end.

On March 2nd, 2012, our dear friend and neighbor Aimee Gay pulled up to my home. I had just brought Blair home from the hospital. Her PICC-Line was in place. Aimee told me that she really thought I should run in the heart & Sole 5k. I asked her of what the race date was in 2012. Aimee responded, "I know it is short notice but I feel that something wants me to drag you down there in the morning." Mind you, I had been focused on finishing graduate school at MCG, working full-time in an area ER and taking care of my hospitalized wife as well as finishing all of the end of life paperwork for Anderson. There was no way that I could do this race. I was out of shape! But Aimee, being the creative friend that she is knew how to get to my heart. She pulled out a race number for me and a t-shirt. The race number was 123 as in Anderson’s birthday of 1/23.

After speaking 5 minutes with Aimee I was hooked. I was going to run that race in Anderson’s name and boy was I excited. Blair was even more excited than I was but she could not run. Even though she couldn’t run, she wasn’t going to miss this 5k. She came the next morning to cheer me on with her PICC-Line in place. I was so excited that I was running for my son, Anderson that I had Blair write "Team Anderson" on my arm in magic marker. Being as out of shape as I was, I ran my heart out. And again, I felt the presence of something much stronger than that of this life. I was now sure that I could make Anderson’s name live on. After all, in his less than 4 hour life, he had already touched more people spiritually that I had been able to do in my entire 29 years on earth. From the second I started that race, I knew Heart & Sole was going to become something very, very dear to my heart.

When I struggled across that finish line, I chatted with those around me. I learned what Heart & Sole was about. I learned that I was not the only one who had faced such devastation. Blair met many more people than I did. She left ecstatic. The feeling of finding a place for the legacy of your son’s life is far beyond extraordinary and Heart & Sole did just that for us. Everyone associated with Heart & Sole have the same compassion that Blair and I have. But our journey with them was not over. It was only beginning.

In 2013, we decided to do a t-shirt drive. We had 500 t-shirts made for runners and walkers to wear to the 5k Heart & Sole race. Our t-shirt had Anderson’s actual footprint on it and stated, "Anderson, an angel that touched my life". We sold or gave away every single one of those shirts to benefit the race. Now we had gone into the thousand range of how many lives Anderson had touched. That was more honorable that I can dare to explain. Every now and then, I still see friends and neighbors wearing their Anderson tee-shirts. And it means the world to me.
For the 2013 Heart & Sole run, we had a surprise that not many had known of. Against all odds, Blair was pregnant. It was miraculous. We were told that the possibilities of this were extremely slim to none but somehow it happened. And I ran Heart & Sole in 2013 with the thought in mind that Anderson had a younger sibling on the way, against the odds of humanity, but with the odds of faith, love and joy. Blair took on a much bigger role than I did with Heart & Sole in 2013 by designing the Anderson shirts, volunteering for the race and walking the race with her mom and other friends.

As 2013 pressed on, we became very confident in our faith that God was replenishing our marriage with something my wife had wanted all of her life, a baby to raise. We didn’t care if there were complications. We didn’t care if it was a girl or boy. We didn’t care what the outcome would be. We just cared that we had a second child on the way and that care specifically was more beautiful than I can put into words.

For the 2014 Heart & Sole, I ask that you please look for me. I am running with my new companion. I will be pushing a running stroller with him in it. His name is Christian Elijah Schiffbauer and he goes by Eli. At the time of the race, he will be 4 months old and he is my 2nd son. The two of us won’t be running for each other but running for his older brother. This is something that he will grow up learning about. He will learn what his brother has done and continues to do on this earth. He will grow up looking up to his brother just the way that I do. Running the 5k this year with Eli is going to be unimaginable for me. The fact that this organization has changed my life the way it has doesn’t speak highly enough for what they do. They have changed my life in the most positive and effective way possible. If you see me at the race, please come say hello to me and Anderson’s younger brother Eli. We will be so happy to talk to you about the compassion that we have for such a wonderful cause.

With my most sincere and loving regards to you all,
Christopher Thomas Schiffbauer

A Whole NEW Perspective - 2014

Written by Stacey Haskins Garner
Wednesday, February, 19 2014

A Whole New Perspective ~ Looking at 2014 a little different.....

Happy February Everyone!

I like to think of this month as a time for LOVE, Valentines Day and Heart Awareness BUT also it is a very BIG time for Heart and Sole Inc ~ The KICKOFF for the Annual 5k and Evening Celebration.

Every year, I try my VERY best to explain to EVERYONE possible – "What is Heart and Sole?" I started Heart and Sole in 2006, after losing my niece Margaret "Bowen" McElreath. For 8 years I have viewed the Children's Hospital of Georgia & HS from the view of being an aunt to a very special little girl. This year it is a little different for me than any other year, as I am expecting my first child, a baby girl, in June. I now know the anxious feelings that come along with expecting a child and wondering the BIG "what ifs". As I try to cast away all of my fears, there are several factors that keep the "what ifs" at bay.

  1. Faith in Him keeps me grounded.... Trusting Him at all times and knowing that He puts the right people along our path to care for the "what ifs" BUT you still have the "what ifs" at times. Without Him... I would be a mess worrying.
  2. I have an incredible doctor, Dr. McDonough. (If you know me... I am a little OCD and he tries his best to understand me BUT most important he calms me when I have concerns. I am in GREAT hands.)
  3. I have a wonderful family and supportive friends. (No one said pregnancy is perfect or easy.)
  4. LASTLY, I have the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. And this is what helps me sleep at night!

I am so excited about looking forward to this years Heart and Sole event in March with a whole new perspective.... As a future mother!! So whether you are a mother, aunt, grandmother, father, uncle, grandfather or a cousin.... Cast your fears away and support the ONE facility that is ALWAYS open and ready for the "what ifs".

It can happen to you... in the middle of the night or a bright sunny day ~ You might face the "what ifs," BUT know that the Children’s Hospital of Georgia is right here for ALL of us.

Join us for the 5K, Evening Event or both for a guaranteed GREAT time and Help make a difference!

For more information on where the 2013 funds were directed once donated to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, PLEASE read below! If you joined us in 2013, you are part of the reason that these services and items helped make a difference and we thank YOU!

See you on March 1st!!!
Stacey Haskins Garner

We are GROWING at Heart and Sole....
A BIG congrats to ALL of the new Heart & Sole babies that we welcomed and will welcome to HS Board Members this Spring!
James Gardiner "Bo" Weigle ~ Proud parents are Elizabeth and Reed Weigle (Dec. 2013)
Blakely Elizabeth Cowart ~ Proud parents are Lauren and Jason Cowart (Jan. 2014)
Baby Girl Walker ~ Expecting Parents are Whitney and Blake Walker ( Arriving in March '14)
Baby McElreath ~ Expecting Parents are Cameron and Sam McElreath ( Arriving in April '14)
Bennett Lane Dallas ~ Expecting Parents are Lauren and Al Dallas (Arriving in May '14)
Baby Girl Garner ~ Expecting Parents are Stacey and Reed Garner (Arriving in June '14)

Heart and Sole 2013 Donations

Heart and Sole is the SOLE sponsor of Camp Strong Hearts each Summer. This is a camp that allows heart children the opportunity to be a kid and leaving the parents at ease that they are in the BEST hands. This commitment each year is a minimum donation of $15,000.

In 2013, Heart and Sole helped replace the Rocking chairs in the PICU. These chairs are used for the families that have young children that need the tender care of their families during the difficult time of being a patient in the hospital. Special chairs are needed to meet hospital code and these chairs are different, as they need to be cared for after each use.

General Surgery/OR Services
In 2013, Heart and Sole purchased a special Pediatric Crib that is needed to help the critical care infants and toddlers. This bed is in addition to many others on the PICU/NICU floors, yet with the limited type of this bed.... This gave the hospital space to care for one more child of this critical level.

ChildLife Specialists
In 2013, Heart and Sole gave funding for 50 game mounts for the game systems throughout the facility. This is extremely important, as many of these systems have been acquired through donor dollars and fundraising. These mounts make sure that these systems stay in each room and are properly cared for. A VERY big need in a children’s hospital is a way to distract these sweet children from the pains and ailments that they are experiencing.

Not just a Normal Checkup - Meet Finley

Written by H&S and Cheri Hain
Friday, March 1, 2013

Not just a normal checkup - Meet Finley

If you ONLY get ONE message from the stories shared from Heart and Sole, this is what WE want you to know ~ SUPPORT the place that is ALWAYS there to SUPPORT YOU!

Welcome to the world where you thought your child was healthy and just going in for his yearly checkup ~ Meet Finley!

This is what Heart and Sole means to me... shared by Finley’s mom, Cheri.

Heart and Sole means HOPE, it means LIFE!

October 2011, we took our son Finley for his 8 year old checkup. What started out as a "well" visit quickly turned into one of the scariest days of my life. Dr. Moore heard something abnormal with Finley's heart and wanted to refer us to a pediatric cardiologist. We were at CMC within a few weeks...WHAT A BLESSING! After many tests and sonograms, Finley was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta. A piece of his aorta was constricted and was not allowing the blood to flow properly. They would have to do heart surgery to remove the constricted part and attach the aorta back together. During the next few weeks, we visited the CMC many times and each time Finley was excited to go!? Dr. Luten was amazing with his corny jokes and his "tickle torture"!
Finley had heart surgery on January 12, 2012. After surgery, he was taken to PICU and then moved to the upper floor. He was so excited to get an XBox in his room! After four days, Finley came home and returned to school within two weeks. He started playing tennis again and won his first tournament last Spring. In March, Finley RAN the Heart and Sole 5k and plans to do it again this year. Last fall, Finley was invited to Camp Strong Heart. We hadn't even made it to the car when he asked if he could go again next year. He met so many new friends, and even got to kiss a fish! This is what Heart and Sole means to him...

Priorities are in order... Meet EmmaKate

Written by H&S and Tara Sanders
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Priorities are in order... Meet EmmaKate

Saturday morning.... Snuggling in late...If it was up to EmmaKate Sanders, she would say absolutely NOT!

At 6 years old, she knows the VALUE of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. We not ONLY need your support, We WANT your support!

It is amazing to see that most children that are the weakest with health at the start have the STRONGEST personalities and the WILL TO LIVE!

Her priorities are in order at 6 years old ~ Meet EmmaKate!
Until April 11, 2006 I didn't know how much the Children's Medical Center and the fabulous doctors, nurses and staff would mean to our family.
Jay and I were so blessed to have a beautiful healthy daughter and were eagerly expecting arrival of our second. That day quickly approached. Emma Kate was born and seemingly doing fine until taken back for her initial check-up in the nursery.
We were very soon informed that our picture perfect baby girl had some things going on that needed the specialty attention of The Children's Medical Center. We were at University so a transport team came over from next door to get her and take her to the pediatric ICU where EK would spend the next 7 days.

In the next 7 days EK would be put through much prodding, poking, and surgery. Dr. Hatley we felt, as so many of us do, was heaven sent. I believe EmmaKate was seen by every department the CMC has to offer. Thoroughly looking her little body over and working in unison to get all just right. Jay and I blurry eyed and exhausted needed guidance every step of the way and even to this day we turn to Dr. Hatley if the slightest thing comes up with Emma Kate.
Our family continued on with CMC for the rest of EKs first year she ended up having a total of about 4 surgeries. She is out of " care" now but I have Dr Hatley’s number in my phone and I am not afraid to use it.

Why am I writing this for Heart and Sole you ask? Emma Kate didn't have a heart problem. Emma Kate and the many, many children of the CMC benefit from Heart and Sole. Heart and Sole has recently purchased a transport bed like the one used to transport Emma Kate. They have also purchased several pieces of very costly equipment used in diagnosing Emma Kate.
The funds raised by Heart and Sole stay local and the doctors who use the equipment everyday get to help decide along with the board members what is purchased.

Emma Kate asked me what I was writing and I told her. She told me her favorite things at the CMC and they fall in this order: Dr. Hatley, Dr. Donohoe, & McDonald's. I would say the docs are doing pretty good!

**Emma Kate is now a very vivacious and healthy 6 3/4 year old
Tara Sanders

Double the LOVE... Meet the MIRACLE Cashin Twins

Written by H&S and John Cashin
Friday, February 22, 2013

Double the LOVE and Double the Fun... Two Miracles in one!

This is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read! WOW is all I can say when I read John and Kelly Cashin’s Story of their twins – Erin and Tyler. Double the LOVE, What little miracles they are... Meet Erin & Tyler.
There have been thousands of dollars donated to the NICU from Heart and Sole but in 2012 alone, Heart and Sole donated $18,000 to the NICU at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Thank you for helping babies like the Cashin Twins!

It isn't often the daddy writes the blog about his children. This one is extra special!
Thank you John for sharing your story..... Meet Erin & Tyler.

My daughter is a beautiful, little, four-year-old who loves to hear another story at bedtime after we've all read one together. She asks me to tell her about the Pinky Princess. It's the story of little girl born so tiny my wedding ring could fit over her tiny little foot and follow it up over her ankle, calf and thigh. The Pinky Princess was so special, the story goes, that they locked her away in a guarded tower and protected her night and day with dozens of Doctors, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Speech Therapists, technicians, Physicians Assistants and Surgeons. They put her in a special bed with a heat lamp to keep her warm and monitors to make sure she was well. You see, the Pinky Princess could not eat, she could not breath, she could not make blood or keep herself warm but she was so very special that all of her Doctors and Nurses made sure to do all of those things for her. They fretted and attended to her every need, rushing to her side dozens of times a day when she fell asleep and forgot to breath. And her parents came to visit, they knew the password so they were let in and able to hold her and whisper their love. And as the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, the Pinky Princess learned to breath and to eat and to keep herself warm. In fact, everyone helped her learn so much that one day her parents came to visit and were told they could take her home with them and so they did. And the Princess came to her house and met her brothers and kept up all of her hard work until she found herself, one night years after, sitting on her soft and comfortable bed listening to a silly story her Daddy always tells her of a very tiny baby that grew into a beautiful little girl.

If you met that girl and her brother tomorrow you might be surprised to know they are four now, they are small for their age, but soon you would see two perfectly normal, if a bit precocious little ones. You might meet them jumping around Monkey Joe's, playing laser tag at Putt-Putt or just running around Hickman or Pendleton King Parks. If you asked about them, you'd be surprised to know they spent 97 days in the NICU, especially if you had any idea what the NICU is, but thanks to them our two children, born so special, are now perfectly normal.

Prior to the birth of my twins, my knowledge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was peripheral at best. It was the place they took kids from L&D that were born a little too early to finish baking them. I'm married to a nurse so I knew the general idea. For example, I knew that anything less than 28 weeks gestation was bad, potentially catastrophic and that's about it. My twins were born at 25 weeks and 6 days.

They weighed about 2 lbs and dropped some of that instantly. They were like two tiny, skinned and burnt squirrels. Flame red, shriveled, completely helpless and worst of all, they were not ours. We could not provide that level of care so they belonged to the NICU and would for the next 97 days. I could handle the beeping and bonging and chaos of the NICU, the babies' roller coaster ride on and off ventilators and meds, their uncertain outcome, but going to see them everyday and then going home alone again, saying goodnight to them with no kisses, no hugs, no rocking . . .

Still, we went everyday to see them and we learned about lipids and oxygen saturation and retinopathy and Penrose drains and while we did we learned about the Doctors, Nurses, PA's, Therapists, Technicians and staff that took vigilant care of our children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while we worked and slept. We learned their names, Bathia, Bartley, Bodie, Buckler, Bunyapen, Brawley, Borders, if we just keep it to the doctors beginning with B. We learned that the FDA does not recommend any drugs for the treatment of preemies. We learned they rely instead on years of rigorous training that must continue every day through consultations with colleagues, internet research and conference attendance. Most importantly, they rely on their own common sense and the most deep seeded desire to help others I have ever encountered.

As the days passed we began to realize something else, that we were only the parents, we would make helpful allies in the future, but for now, our babies were their patients that kept them awake at night, analyzing their unique bundles of symptoms, endlessly comparing them to prior cases and treatments and studies and a staggering list of possible paths. It was our children they thought about on the drive home and cheered for on the good days and cried for on the bad ones as they searched day and night for the best course, the best outcome for our children. We learned to leave our babies in their capable hands, grateful and confident in their commitment to treat them as their own. They were our twins' first family and I can promise you they took damn good care of them.

The day my daughter was discharged my wife and I sat in a small conference room across the table from Dr. Bodie as he read through a laundry list of potential issues and possible outcomes for her before starting on the dozens of specials instructions. About half way through the list he got to the feeding instructions. "This," he said, "is the most important." And he gave me a familiar look that I could not place. I knew I'd seen that look before and finally it hit me, two years later, on the way home from a follow up visit. We had just met with a different Dr. Bodie, one that was no longer filled with ominous warnings but boundless hope for a little girl that may very well have dodged more bullets than Bruce Willis. I knew that look because Stephanie Meyer's dad had given me the very same one when I went to pick her up for our first date in the 11th grade. On that day, I realized Dr. Bodie gave me that look because he wanted to know if I would take good care of his little girl.

For our part, we have tried to take care, our only goal when we brought the twins home was to try to maintain the level of care and comfort they were afforded in the NICU, we knew we could never exceed it.

Words can give you an idea of the type of work done in the NICU and the extraordinary people that do it. However, they cannot give any of those people back the missed soccer matches, performances and holidays they gave up for our children. My words can't give them the four years of joy and laughter the twins have given me but that's not what those folks want or need. They don't want our congratulations, they don't want our thanks, all they want is positive outcomes for every patient.

These folks are playing chess against the most difficult opponent imaginable and they don't have all the pieces but they still manage to win a few, as improbable as that is. With our help, maybe they can win a few more. They save our children against all the odds and all they want is to do it better.