Once again this year, TV-17 is teaming with the Children's Miracle Network to benefit Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and the Lauren Small Children's Medical Center.
The CMN mediathon is Wednesday, December 12th, with the goal of enhancing medical care for kids in Kern County.
The hallmark of CMN and Memorial Hospital is caring for preemies.
Here is the story of a local mother whose three children weighed a combined six pounds at birth.
"All three were premature, ten weeks early. I had them at 30 weeks." Looking back, it's hard for Susie Eckroth to believe just how far her three kids have come.
"Andrew, my first, was 3 pounds. Then the twins, Emma was 2 pounds, 14 ounces and Alec was one pound, 10 ounces."
Andrew, now 23, spent several weeks in Memorial Hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit, hooked up to machines, getting round-the-clock care from the NICU nurses.
Three years later, Susie gave birth to Emma and Alec, who were even smaller than Andrew.
"It was shocking, it was like nothing I had ever experienced," she recalls. "When you get pregnant, you expect to deliver a full-term baby, go home with the baby. Going into the NICU was a whole different world, all the electronics. It was very frightening, but I had nurses and doctors that were so reassuring and comforting that I got to know them quickly and they became another family to us."
And, her babies had the best equipment.
Memorial is the only Children's Miracle Network hospital in Kern County.
All of the money raised here stays here, and is used to buy high-tech equipment like the Giraffe Omni-Bed, which is basically an all-in-one incubator for preemies.
Susie's kids are grown now and doing well, she says, thanks to CMN and the generous donations from our community.
"We are so blessed. I call them my three normal, healthy, ornery, well they're not teenagers anymore. Last month, the twins became 20 years old. No physical ailments, no mental, no long-term effects from prematurity, and I have Memorial Hospital and the nurses and the doctors to thank for that."
"It's kind of strange being so small, then living a normal life without any disabilities," said Alec Eckroth.
Susie was so impressed with the care her children received, she became a NICU nurse herself at Memorial three years ago.
"Watching the nurses in the NICU when my kids were first born, they were inspiring. They were. The respect I had for them and hoping I could give some of that back."
And, Wednesday is your chance to give.
Our Children's Miracle Network mediathon is from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., live right here on TV-17.
The money you pledge will benefit children's medical care at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. And, remember, the money raised here stays here.