One couple from Chicago is raising money to give hundreds of NICU parents free parking passes so that visiting their preemies doesn’t have to be costly.
While Carrie and Terry Meghie’s 1o-month old son, Jackson, spent most of his brief life in hospitals, they were faced with a myriad of situational issues, including some as ‘simple’ as parking fees. They knew many families for whom the fees added up, and in addition to the high expenses that came with life in the NICU, they were sometimes barriers to being with their children as much as they wanted.
Jackson had been born premature, and his lungs weren’t fully developed. He died, and his parents wanted to do something in his name to help other parents. In 2013, they started a nonprofit, named Jackson Chance Foundation, and aimed to help parents who had gravely ill children not have to worry as much about parking costs when it came to spending time with their children.
The Meghies were familiar with both Prentice Women’s Hospital and Lurie Children’s as Jackson had been seen at both. News of their story and mission was spread in 2013, and by 2015, the foundation had received over $1 million in donations, making it possible for all NICU parents at Lurie Children’s Hospital to have monthly parking passes at no charge.
This gift alone is priceless to the many families for whom it meant more time with their children, but now, the Jackson Chance Foundation is looking to help even more families, and is expanding their parking pass program to Prentice Women’s Hospital, where Jackson spent over four months of his life.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Carrie Meghe said that families who have babies in Prentice’s NICU will also receive the monthly passes. She said that since they launched his foundation, it’s always been their goal to share the gift with both of the NICUs he called home, particularly since Jackson’s brother, Maxson, also spent a week at Prentice’s NICU.
Meghie says one should never worry about not being able to pay and see one’s child, so the passes will help take that pressure away. The foundation has raised enough money so that every family of the 90-NICU-bed Prentice and the 50-NICU bed Lurie will be able to get a family monthly parking pass that will allow family members to come and go without incurring new charges as they come in and out.
Meghie says that sponsoring a family parking pass for a month is $300, and they work with the parking garages to buy special passes that are not available to the general public. Without their work and negotiations and donations, families could look at an extra $1,000 in fees just to visit their babies.
In 2016, CNN honored Meghie with a CNN Hero award, and asked whether they planned to take the NICU pass mission outside of Chicago. For now, she says that their focus is on ensuring Chicago parents have no needs with passes and then looking at what growth and donations could do elsewhere.
Knowing first-hand what trauma comes when your child is in NICU, and knowing what life after burying your baby son is like, my heart is filled with gratitude for their selfless work for others in the name of their son.
If you’d like to make donations to make a difference in another family’s life, you can go to their site.
Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune