Effort expands to help the tiniest babies survive and thrive - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Effort expands to help the tiniest babies survive and thrive

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Candace Richter started the non-profit, Bee Mighty, out of a desire to give back and help support other parents of preemies.

Too often, they must chose between critical therapy or paying the bills. Richter quickly found in her own experience that private insurance covered only a fraction of what their child needed to maximize his potential.

She wants other parents to avoid the fear of financial ruin and focus on finding the right therapies. In its first year, Bee Mighty raised $60,000 to help those families.

Their mission recently expanded to help all survivors of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Charlotte area. A fundraiser planned for November 16th will help further the cause.

It all started with "Mighty Shaw," Candace's little boy.

Three years ago, a big hug from him seemed out of reach.

"He really is a miracle," said Candace. When Shaw started walking last year, it was milestone they thought would never happen.

Shaw was born 13 weeks premature and weighed less than 2.5 pounds. He spent 122 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Presbyterian Hospital.

"There were just some really dark days," said Candace, looking at her husband Michael. They were tested during those four months in the NICU, and their journey did not end there. It continued well after Shaw came home.

They had a long list of worries, their baby survived meningitis, pneumonia, and brain surgeries. To compound the situation, Shaw needed several weekly therapies.

"It's the difference between if your son is going to walk or talk," she said. "It's critical."

The Richters dug in and committed themselves to helping Shaw succeed. They did their homework and met frustration along the way.

"There are families like us who don't qualify for Medicaid but aren't independently wealthy," said Candace. They would ask providers how other families managed and were simply told to expect financial struggle.

She quit her job to take care of Shaw and his big brother, Nash, who recently turned four. They traveled wherever they could to find the best therapies.

As the Richters find their own balance, they're helping other families have an easier journey.

"If we can help financially alleviate that stress, it's just more time for them to focus on their child," said Candace.

As for Shaw, he still has challenges. Surgeries and specialists are part of their family vocabulary. However, with each step Shaw is showing people how to truly Bee Mighty.

For more information on Bee Mighty, click here. Bee Something for Bee Mighty is presented by the Charlotte Bobcats. It will be held at the Charlotte Country Club November 16th, starting at 7:00 pm. There will be an auction, entertainment and food.

Bee Mighty was created through a partnership with Novant Presbyterian. The Bee Mighty Fund is managed by The Novant Health Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3.

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