Terry McLaughlin: The Norah Foundation seeks to lighten the load for families of children facing medical crises | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: The Norah Foundation seeks to lighten the load for families of children facing medical crises

Terry McLaughlin
Columnist

Rich and Candace Wilson both grew up in Grass Valley. Rich is a firefighter with Cal Fire and Candace works in the agriculture industry, helping farmers bring new fruits and vegetables to the marketplace.

In November of 2015, Rich and Candace lovingly welcomed a beautiful new daughter into their lives named Norah Marie. Suffering from serious medical problems at birth, this fragile child was transported and treated at three different hospitals. After undergoing surgery to repair a hole in her stomach, receiving a plethora of blood products, and perplexing the minds of her team of doctors, Norah Marie Wilson departed her life on this earth in the loving arms of her mother and father.

Despite their grief and sorrow, Rich and Candace Wilson were determined that Norah Marie's short life in this world would not be without meaning.

In the aftermath of her death, Norah Marie's circle of family and friends created a group which they termed "Norah's Team," who reached out to others with the hope of carrying on the spirit of Norah Marie. They donated blood, adopted families at Christmas, created blessing bags for the homeless, and looked for other unique ways to lift up those in need.

Inspired by her short and precious life, Norah’s parents now strive to live ... upon one simple principle: Never take more than you give.

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That movement of love, compassion, and generosity inspired Norah's family to establish The Norah Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is to lighten the load for families of seriously ill children, so they can focus on caring for their loved ones. Because of their own experience, Rich and Candace understand more than most the struggles encountered by parents and families as they attempt to maintain their day to day needs while caring for a child placed in a hospital out of town.

The Norah Foundation offers support for these families in a variety of ways, including resource information packets and resource bags for out-of-town families who have a child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and providing families of those patients with hotel vouchers, gas cards, and basic amenities.

While Norah was in the intensive care unit, her parents regretted that they did not have a video monitor so that they could see their precious daughter even during those rare moments when they were away from the hospital. One of the short-term goals of the foundation is to install a monitoring system in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sutter Sacramento, and eventually in such units in other regional hospitals as well. The Norah Foundation was recently honored by the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation for their donation of an infant cardiac monitor.

The Norah Foundation also dreams big, with the long-term desire to open a "Norah House." They envision a comfortable furnished home near the hospital, with a central kitchen and several bedrooms, in which the families of children in the intensive care unit could find rest and comfort as they navigate their journey through the medical system, and provide loving care for their critically ill child.

Reaching these short- and long-term goals requires funding, and to this aim The Norah Foundation is hosting "A Pink Tie Event" — a New Year's Eve fundraising celebration at the Foothills Event Center in Grass Valley. Starting at 8 p.m. Dec. 31, this gala event will feature dancing, a no-host bar with local beer, wine and specialty cocktails, fabulous hors d'oeuvres and desserts, a photo booth, a silent auction, and an abundance of good company. Guests are encouraged to incorporate the evening's "pink" theme into their attire. General admission is $75, and limited to guests 21 years of age or older. The best part of the entire evening is that every penny raised will go toward lightening the load of families who have a child facing a serious medical crisis.

Rich and Candace believe that Norah was brought to them for a reason, and in their own words, "part of that reason is to recognize the beauty in people, the innate desire to love each other, and the joy of taking care of one another. By establishing this legal foundation, we hope to harness those compassionate desires and channel them toward a meaningful cause. In doing so, we believe we are passing a torch on to every heart we touch and further building the movement that our precious Norah inspired."

Fortunately, most of us cannot imagine the hardship and heartache of caring for a critically ill child, but The Norah Foundation has been established to help those parents and families who are experiencing what could possibly be the most stressful and devastating time of their lives.

Inspired by her short and precious life, Norah's parents now strive to live their own lives based upon one simple principle: Never take more than you give.

To learn more about The Norah Foundation, or to purchase tickets for this fabulous New Year's Eve event at the Foothills Event Center, please visit http://www.thenorahfoundation.org.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.