WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD)- Chris “CJ” Matthews pulled his little red wagon throughout the halls of Bon Secours Roper St. Francis Hospital to deliver a special gift to the premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
This is the first time Matthews has stepped foot in the hospital since he was born premature 13 years ago. His mother, Kristen Wright-Matthews, says she remembers the terrifying experience like it was yesterday.
“He was born with the umbilical cord around his neck,” says Wright-Matthews, “I remember they rushed in, his heart rate had stopped, and when I delivered him they took him away.”
The Matthews family wanted to bring some comfort to the NICU babies and their moms; while thanking the nurses for their incredible work. The unit was thrilled when they delivered the wagon with baby blankets, stress balls and donuts.
Alexandra Phipps, Clinical Manager for the nursery, says one of the most rewarding parts of her job is being able to see their “graduates” come back and visit.
“I mean they become like one of our children. We love them and get really excited to see them progress,” says Phipps.
This isn’t the only time Matthews has collected blankets to donate; in fact, he has his own charity called ‘Blankies 4 My Buddies.’ Wright-Matthews says the idea came about when tragedy struck their family.
“We actually started this because I lost a baby after CJ. At the same time we had a cousin — I had a death in the family, and then his great-grandmother passed, and for a 5 year old to deal with so much pain — and so much death. I knew that there was something we needed to do to help him cope,” she says.
She says they started ‘Blankies 4 My Buddies’ in honor of the daughter they lost. In the last 8 years, the charity has grown massively and they’ve been able to help countless people in the Atlanta area.
Matthews has continued to collect blankets, hold fundraisers and donate food to help people in need. Now, he has a 4-year-old brother, Collin, following right in his footsteps.
“I want to tell kids that no matter how small or big or old or young, you can make a change in this world,” he says.CJ Matthews, Blankies 4 My Buddies
If you want to learn more about Blankets 4 My Buddies, click here.