Running, jumping, dancing with glee: all things typical of children playing at a picnic in the park. But for parents of children born prematurely or with health conditions, the promise of one day seeing their children doing these things was not always guaranteed.
One such family came to the St. Luke's NICU Graduate Picnic to thank the nurses and doctors who saved their children’s lives.
"I'm thankful for the nurses and the staff and everybody that's helped out," said Cody McKague, father of three boys. "Just glad to be here today. And glad the babies are here today."
The McKagues had not one-- not two-- but three of their children born prematurely and placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
"I love my life. It's crazy at times. But I'm just really thankful for them being with me here today."
Easton, one in the set of twins, was born at only two pounds.
"After-- how many days?-- 151 days total that Easton spent in the hospital," said McKague.
All three were able made it through, including Easton, though he suffers from a heart condition.
"Unfortunately, throughout his life, he'll have to get some more open heart surgeries to replace that valve, so, but aside from that, they're very healthy boys. You wouldn't even hardly be able to tell they had any of those complications that they had. And again, the nurses in the hospitals took a big vital role in making it be that way," said McKague.
Last year, nearly 8,000 babies were born at St. Luke's hospitals. Due to preterm labor and medical conditions, more than 10 percent of those babies received care in the NICU.
"When we send them home, it's kind of like, you're sending them home and it's like the beginning chapter. So you get to see the rest of their story as well," said Kelsey Cavallo, nurse at a St. Luke's NICU.
"And [the nurses] were always just smiling and happy whenever we walked into any room, and just big support systems for us," said McKague.