Luke's NICU Journey

Jocelyn Peterman, Team Lawes


There are countless reasons for you to support the upcoming Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon, but I want to tell you about the reason that is closest to my heart.

His name is Luke, and he’s my son.

Last May, our world was turned upside down when, despite a smooth pregnancy, Luke was born with life-threatening challenges after an unexpected C-section. The complications from this procedure led to high breathing rates. He struggled for oxygen and couldn’t eat, leading to low blood sugar.

Our hearts sank when we were told the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, where I gave birth, was overcrowded. Thankfully a bed was freed up for him and our tiny newborn was soon covered in cords and tubes as he fought for every second.

All I wanted to do was hold him, but I could only wait, filled with hope and anxiety.

Having just come out of surgery, I could barely walk, and although I made it to the NICU to see Luke often, I was confined to the recovery unit. My husband Brett, however, started sleeping there immediately. After I recovered, Brett and I spent our days and nights in the NICU, refusing to leave our newborn’s side.

Brett often tells a story about the first time he went home to have a shower. As the water poured down on him, all he could hear was the beeping and buzzing of the NICU.  Those sounds will stay with us forever.

After four days at the Foothills NICU, Luke was transferred to a nearby hospital for another week, where he grew stronger. Today, he’s a thriving, healthy boy, but the memories of his early struggles and the sound of the alarms in the NICU still echo in our minds.

That’s why the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, which helps Canadian NICUs purchase life-saving medical equipment, is so important to me.

The 2024 Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon is set to take place on Sunday, February 18th, during the upcoming Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary. I’m looking forward to being back on the Scotties ice, this time as a new mom.

This year, inspired by recent successes, the Foundation has set its most ambitious Telethon fundraising goal: an astonishing $1 million to support Canadian NICUs!

Meeting such an ambitious target wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of dedicated Sandra Schmirler Foundation donors and supporters.

Given the urgent need to provide more NICUs with life-saving medical equipment to support critically ill newborns like Luke, coupled with the Foundation’s ambitious $1 million goal, I am hopeful you’ll be extra generous in supporting this year’s Telethon.

In each of the last three years, the Sandra Schmirler Foundation has granted $1 million to help babies like Luke in hospitals all across Canada.

Indeed, Brett and I cannot overstate the importance of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, especially after our personal experiences with Luke. Seeing our little boy in the NICU, hooked up to all that equipment, was overwhelming. But it also made us realize how vital these resources are. The equipment and care provided by the NICU saved Luke’s life and it’s support from donors like you that makes that happen.

Although we are forever grateful that Luke overcame his early challenges and is now a healthy boy, we can’t help but think about the countless other families facing similar situations. Just like Luke, those babies deserve the chance to grow up and become champions.

So, as we approach the Telethon, we invite you to join us in this journey of making a life-saving difference. A contribution, in any amount, goes a long way in reaching the Foundation’s $1 million goal and ensuring this incredible organization, established to immortalize the legacy of a true Canadian hero, continues to be a beacon of hope and stability for families facing their darkest hour for decades to come.

Your donation today will count towards our $1 million goal and help more babies like Luke!

Photos courtesy of Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant.