Newborns given chance to ‘Bloom’ at NICU

Tina Searcy (left) and Amy Novakovski talked about their sixth annual “Bloom: An Evening of Love” fundraiser for the NICU as the room at the Travelodge filled up on May 13

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Amy Novakovski and Tina Searcy are two of those people who found themselves depending on the NICU at a critical time. Each has a small graduate of NICU who is now about five or six years old.

Gratitude is a powerful motivator and these women channeled theirs into the successful and growing fundraiser, “Bloom: an Evening of Love.” This year’s dinner was hosted by Julie Mintenko of Global News and took place May 13 at the Travelodge Hotel. It’s a gala evening with a lot going for it – a silent auction, an energetic live auction, an illusionist and for the first time this year, live music by Bruin. Some complimentary bevvies were available for the cocktail hour as well.

Novakovski and Searcy are pleased to see the event expanding each year. “I’m excited about this fundraiser because every year we’re growing,” said Novakovski. “It’s evolving. We’re becoming something bigger and bigger and we’re just excited to see all the people that continue to support us year after year and the new people that continue to come along to support us every year.”

Bloom has attracted a ‘whole bunch’ of new sponsors, and this year partnered with a Saskatoon production company to track a day in the life of NICU in a video presentation. Throughout the evening, images of toddlers holding photos of their tiny selves in the NICU animate the large central screen.

“The people that are here, most of them have their own stories or their own reasons for why they want to support NICU and they’re really heart warming,” said Searcy. Funds raised go directly to NICU, they’re not funneled through anywhere else. NICU identifies needs and decides how to spend the funds, whether it’s for specialized items or training.

“The NICU is a place that you don’t want to be, but it’s a great place that’s available if your child needs it,” said Searcy. Her child did. Born at 33 weeks, her now five-year-old graduate spent two weeks in the NICU. “We owe NICU for life!” she said.

For parents who cannot be physically present at the NICU at Royal University Hospital, a sophisticated live, online video streaming service allows them to see and bond with their newborn from a distance. The service is available on any device with internet service.

Novakovski’s son spent five days in the NICU as well. “I always say that they gave me him, because without them there’s no way for me to know how his story would have gone. “I will forever, forever be grateful to them and as long as I can, I will keep giving back through Bloom.”

In a few weeks’ time, Bloom will provide an update on total funds raised through the sixth annual Bloom fundraiser. The seventh year is already planned! Through their efforts, Novakovski and Searcy are helping more newborns Bloom, one tiny life at a time.