A family that experienced the generosity of a community while their child was in PICU at Duke Hospital spends time each year giving back, and giving to those who need a boost while they go through similar situations.
Paula Thomas’ daughter Jada was born severely premature, and stopped breathing. CPR caused her to have grade 4 brain bleeds, and it wasn’t until hours later that she was airlifted to Duke Hospital, the only hospital that would take her. While at the hospital, Thomas said she experienced an outpouring from her community and from complete strangers, and because she understands the difference a donation can make in the life of parents watching their child struggle, she has decided to do the same for others.
Five years ago, Thomas started hosting an event called Jada’s Helping Hands Helping Others. Next weekend, Sept. 28, at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in the fellowship hall from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., they will hold their fundraiser, with hot dogs and baked goods and family fun. Proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House of Durham.
“Sometimes we go to Duke and walk through the neonatal unit and the nurse will tell us who is there and we’ll give them gas cards,” said Thomas, who said parents who drive each day to see their children need most help in the form of gas. “It’s hard but you get through it.” Not without the support of everyone there, and Thomas said she still has connections with nurses that have grown to know Jada over the years.
Jada is 10-years-old, and is bound to a wheelchair, but Thomas said she is “full of life.”
“She just started saying ‘mom,’” said Thomas with tears in her eyes.
Jada has cerebral palsy and can’t walk or speak much, but Thomas said she is the light of her life.
“The Lord put it in my spirit to help others and it’s so much fun and it’s all for a worthy cause,” said Thomas. “We do something different every year. When Jada was born, people helped us, too. It does the heart good to help others. My committee is a wonderful group of people and we have drawings and door prizes and wrist bands for $2.”
Thomas and her committee also donate to the Duke Hospital Christmas wish list, and the Neonatal and PICU at Duke as well.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry’s last day was Friday. This is one of her last articles for the Daily Journal.