BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — The joys of parenting can so quickly and unexpectedly shift into a roller coaster of pain. For Blaine parents, Andy and Jenny Brown, the unexpected happened when their first son was born 16 weeks premature.
“He was one pound, eight ounces and he just had really everything wrong with him,” Jenny said.
Their newborn son Colton measured eleven-and-a-half inches long and was born at 24 weeks. Sadly, Colton passed away just 10 days after birth.
It was the hardest decision the new parents could ever make. “We had to end up making a decision to take him off of life support because there just wasn’t anything that they could do for him,” Jenny Brown painfully added.
After a while the Browns would have another child to look forward to, baby Ryland. Doctors thought their first premature pregnancy was a fluke, unlikely to happen again.
Still, Jenny was put into a high risk category and was put on bed rest for two months. She was also given a lung surfactant medication to help the baby’s lung development while in the womb.
“I still ended up having Ryland at 28 weeks. He was two pounds, 12 ounces, but Ryland came out breathing on his own,” Jenny said.
Even so, baby Ryland would spend 62 days in St. Paul Children’s neonatal intensive care unit.
Thanks to the incredible care of doctors and nurses at St. Paul Children’s, Ryland is now a healthy, active, athletic 10-year-old boy.
“People can’t even believe that he was a preemie, he plays hockey and he just levels kids,” Jenny smiles.
To show their gratitude for the care both of their sons received, Andy, Jenny and son Ryland began marching with his NICU nurses in the annual March of Dimes “March for Babies” each spring.
It is a benefit to help fund medical research into advances in neonatal care.
But Andy Brown explains that the couple felt they could do more, so they organized a silent auction fundraiser at a local bowling alley. It has grown beyond their wildest dreams.
“We thought we’d step up the game and do a gala the first year,” Andy said.
The Browns are now in their third year sponsoring and organizing the “Chef’s Dinner and Auction,” to benefit March of Dimes.
“They pay for a ticket, they come there, it’s a donation, they get a nice meal, we do filet mignon, we do scallops — it’s a nice gala dinner, you just don’t really get that a whole lot of places,” Andy said.
So on Saturday, April 14 at the TPC in Blaine, the Browns will strive to raise $100,000 for March of Dimes.
Jenny rattles off a litany of items, explaining, “We have sports memorabilia, we have golfing packages.”
There will be celebrity chefs dinners as well as an incredible wine country trip to Napa. They promise the nearly 200 people in attendance a fun evening that aims to fund a precious need.
“He is our little miracle, Ryland is,” added Jenny.
It is a cause near and dear to the hearts of new parents everywhere.
For more information about the Chef’s Dinner & Auction benefit for March of Dimes as well as the April 28 March for Babies, click here.