Hand to Hold’s impact on one local family

Jocelyn and Bradley Brandt with their daughter Jessica, born in July, and their son Jason,
who was less than two pounds when he was born and spent the first 111 days of his life in
the hospital as a premature infant.

4th annual Hand to Hold fundraising baby shower Fri.

Four Points News

Jocelyn and Bradley Brandt are helping organize the Hand to Hold’s 4th annual Baby Shower event on Friday because it is the organization that helped them in their family’s time of need.

The Brandt’s son Jason was born on March 15, 2015, at 26 weeks and 1 day, weighing just 1 lb 10 oz. The Brandts visited the neonatal intensive care unit  twice a day for 111 days at St. David’s HealthCare while their baby was hooded up to ventilators and more for the breathing challenges he faced. When baby Jason got to go to his home in Steiner Ranch, he continued to struggle with feeding issues; feeding therapy was needed to strengthen his oral muscles.

While Jason was in the NICU, Jocelyn was matched with Hand to Hold’s founder Kelli Kelley as a peer mentor. She and Bradley were also visited by a Hand to Hold social worker who made bedside rounds in the NICU, supporting parents during this trying time.

Jocelyn spent her first Mother’s Day in the hospital with Jason, and Bradley spent his first Father’s Day in the hospital with Jason. Both days were a “bright spot” because Hand to Hold held special, in-hospital events on those holidays.

“Hand to Hold supported us helped us celebrate during the midst of bleak chaos,” Jocelyn said.

Today, Jason is thriving and no longer in therapy. He is enjoying pre-K at Riverbend Christian School and enjoys his new little sister, Jessica, born on July 22, 2017. Although Jessica was born more than a month early, she did not have to visit the NICU.

The Hand to Hold support the Brandts received in 2015 is the reason they are now giving back. The couple is overseeing the silent auction and games at the 4th annual fundraising Hand to Hold Baby Shower luncheon on Friday, Oct. 20 at the JW Marriott from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kelley, a Four Points resident and executive director of Hand to Hold, hopes the event will raise funds to expand NICU support services for families of premature and medically fragile infants. The goal is to expand support, education and resources to families not only in Central Texas but also across the United States.

Premature birth – a baby born before 37 weeks of gestation – affects 54 families each week in the Greater Austin area in Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Hays and Caldwell counties, according to a 2012 report from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

This year’s Baby Shower theme is “Building Community Compassion and Hope for NICU Families”.

Kristen Schell — author of the newly released “The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard” and an Austin mother of four — will speak at the Hand to Hold fundraising luncheon on Friday. Schell is an established speaker and blogger on the subjects of food, faith, and hospitality.

Country singer Randy Rogers will perform live at the event, and activities include unique baby shower games with prizes such as jewelry, spa treatments and fine dining gift certificates.

Tickets to the event at the JW Marriott, 110 E 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701 are $175 per person. For more information, visit www.handtohold.org.