For close to 25 years, the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital has hosted an annual reunion for graduates of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Each year, approximately 50-100 children and their families return to the reunion to see the nurses, physicians, therapists, and staff who cared for them. Families also enjoy visiting with other families they may have met during the time their infant was in the NICU. Funding and contributions for the event have come from various sources over the years and donations are always welcomed (link to donate). Typically, there are games, refreshments, informational booths from different sponsors and organizations, and special visits from local celebrities such as the Florida Gator Mascots Albert and Alberta. Flyers are placed in UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, the Alachua County Health Department, and at local pediatric offices. The UF Health public relations office often coordinates newspaper advertisements as well as radio and television spots. Additionally, families registering with the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Group will receive e-mail notifications about the reunion. For additional information, please contact our neonatal social worker at (352) 265-0033.
Event coverage from recent years can be viewed at the following links:
Dylan McCarthy, a former 30-week gestational age premature infant, works on his walking skills at the 2009 Reunion.
Ceana Foster and mother Amy enjoy the reunion activities. Ceana was born at 28 weeks gestation.
Shyanne Gravely was born at 32 weeks gestation. She and her mother Jackie traveled over an hour to visit with former caretakers at the reunion.
Chris and Jamie McLaughlin hold their twins Ava and Elliot along with Florida Gator mascot Alberta . Ava and Elliot were born at 30 weeks gestation.
Julie Baines enjoys holding her former patient Ethan White. Ethan was born at 27 weeks gestation.