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On November 24th, Fly Guy Disc Golf sponsored a disc golf tournament that raised over $2,000 for the UNC Children’s NICU.

104 players showed up on a brisk morning to play and support the cause.

Robert Leonard, an avid disc golf player who is sponsored by both Fly Guy and another company, Discraft, organized the event.

He explains why in his own words:

My wife, Maribeth, and I were very blessed with pregnancy. Fertility issues are a very serious and painful thing for couples, but we had none of those. Every doctor’s appointment was perfect, and no one had the first concern about anything involving her pregnancy. Our first was due April 5th, and we were just counting the days.

On January 6, 2018, I woke up and headed out for the day. My buddies were throwing me a guy-themed baby shower (which was basically an excuse to hang out and watch playoff football) so I headed out around noon to my buddy’s house.

My wife calls me about 7:00 that night; calling for her is very unusual – for her to call when she knows I’m doing something is almost unheard of – I knew something was wrong. She said she was in a lot of pain, and I advised her to call the doctor. The doctor had us come into the Emergency Room at Rex.

We found out there that she was in labor – which made zero sense. The doctors gave her some medicine to stop the labor and were very confident it would work. Out of precaution, the doctors sent us to UNC in the middle of the night because, if our son was born, they would have to life flight him to UNC based on his premature age.

When we got to UNC, we were admitted and checked on throughout the night. Around 6 AM, I texted my mother-in-law, who was en route, that everything was fine. Around 6:30 the doctors came back in and realized they could not stop the labor.

We were rushed into an emergency C-Section.

Oliver was born at 27 weeks that morning of the 7th weighing 2 pounds and 13 ounces. I was confused, scared and had no earthly idea why this happened or what we were going to do. One of the many moments I appreciated the most in our journey happened about 30 minutes after he was born. I was speaking with a NICU doctor, and I said “I just have no idea what we are going to do. We don’t have clothes, we don’t have anything for a baby.” He quickly said “no one in your position does. We will take care of it.”

Oliver spent a total of 76 days in the NICU, split between UNC and Rex, before coming home for good on March 24, 2018.

In my time at UNC, I was blown away at the care provided. For example, when we wanted to hold Oliver, it would take two nurses 15 minutes to get him out of his pod and in our arms. Any time we asked, we were never told no.

We were given access to a minister who would regularly come talk with us. We were given premature clothing. There were books available. A social worker was assigned to us so we could have help with medicare paperwork that he qualified for. To my amazement, we were given gift cards in the cafeteria, which not only lowered some financial stress, but also was one less thing to think about (packing a meal), and we didn’t have to leave the hospital to get food. The pod next to me was a Hispanic family, and the mother didn’t speak English. She had a translator available.

The entire time Oliver was a patient, so many people from inside and outside UNC helped us. That’s a debt I can never repay. But I made a pact that day that I would spend the rest of my life trying, and that’s what has led me to running disc golf fundraisers for NICU families. If they are helped by us out having fun playing disc golf – which we would do anyway – that’s a win win.

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