For over a decade, the Hampton and Russ families have supported advancements to Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) through their signature fundraiser, In the NIC of Time. The event, which benefits the Cottie & Cake Fund at Atrium Health Foundation, has helped purchase webcams, privacy screens, and state-of-the-art surgical equipment; upgrade sleep rooms; support the special Journey Bead program; and more.
In 2022, the co-founders called upon local high school students with a passion for children’s health care to help lead fundraising efforts in support of neonatal patient care initiatives. After a successful inaugural event in 2023, the dedicated group of teens will now host a “Disco Party” event on March 1 at The Terrace at Cedar Hill.
Introducing In the NIC of Time’s Youth Committee:
Oliver Badir, Sophomore at Myers Park High School
“I am interested in serving my community and raising money for a good cause. Giving back to the NICU is crucial to me due to the morals I hold… We hope to provide the families that come through the NICU with the best possible experience and the best possible resources.”
In addition to serving as a committee member for In the NIC of Time, Oliver is a community outreach officer with Helping Hands.
Charlie Cannady, Sophomore at Myers Park High School
“I want to help ease the struggles of families with infants in the NICU. Knowing some of the families who have dealt with these struggles sparked something in my heart to help them. My goal is to raise funds for 10 NICU web view cameras…allowing families to virtually stay present and reduce their anxiety of having an infant in the NICU. My hope is that the same spark that I had will impact others so that we can ultimately help support these families in our community and beyond.”
Kate Cooke, Senior at Myers Park High School
“I decided to get involved with the NIC of Time because the founder, Meghan Hampton, is a close family friend of mine. She introduced me to the importance of the NICU center and how it impacts families. When I was younger I wanted to be a pediatric nurse, my dream changed but I still wanted to help the infants in the hospital. I am extremely thankful I was introduced to the NIC of Time and honored to be on the board. I now understand more of what goes on behind the scenes in NICU and hope to share my knowledge with others.
Our committee hopes to impact every family that passes through the NICU by making sure they receive the best care possible. With the money we raise, we hope to continue purchasing tangible tools that impact every family on the NICU floor. Being on this board helped me realize that every little bit counts, no matter how big or how small the donation is. This truly is a heartwarming cause, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to be part of it these past couple of years.”
Ella Eisenhauer, Sophomore at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I was very excited to join this Committee because of the impact the Levine Children’s NICU has had on the family of one of my best friends. I am inspired by their years of service raising money to ensure the sickest babies are provided the highest level of care. The committee is unique because it is run by high schoolers, and I am honored to be part of such a great group of people who are giving back.
I love babies and young children, and what better way to give than working to ensure they have the best opportunity to grow and be healthy! I look forward to continuing on the committee and helping to make the NICU an even stronger and more loving place for the babies and families who need it most.”
In addition to serving on In the NIC of Time’s youth committee, Ella volunteers at school for the Best Buddies Club and at church through Catholic Charities and Angel Tree.
Lilly Gordon, Senior at Myers Park High School
“I was asked to join the NIC of Time committee by a friend. I have known and heard the emotional journey of having a child in the NICU. My cousin was premature and had temporary respiratory distress that required CPAP and jaundice that required phototherapy. She was kept at the hospital for six days, allowing only parents or grandparents to visit. My Aunt described her NICU experience as scary and difficult being separated from her after delivery.
As a committee, I hope we are able to provide comfort and support to the families who are going through similar experiences. I hope we are able to provide the hospital with additional NICU cameras that can be used by these families to keep interaction with their babies, even if not in person.”
Ella Hampton, Sophomore at Charlotte Catholic High School
“My decision to actively participate in the NICU fundraiser is rooted in a profound family experience. My family personally experienced the emotional rollercoaster of having a newborn in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). My sister Scottie spent six weeks at Levine Children’s Hospital. I was two-and-a-half years old when Scottie was born. I spent a lot of time with her in the NICU, and I can still remember the beeping sounds of the machines and all the sick babies. I now have such an appreciation for the dedicated nurses that allowed me to be part of my sister’s road to recovery. They let me hold her and sing to her whenever I was able to visit. This left a mark on my heart. I now know that this was a period of uncertainty, fear, but ultimately, immense gratitude for the care that saved her life.
Joining ‘In the Nic of Time’ became my way of expressing gratitude and contributing to the ongoing efforts to support other families facing similar challenges. Our committee’s mission is centered around providing tangible enhancements to the NICU. It is our hope that the money raised will help create a more comforting and supportive atmosphere for both the babies and their families during their NICU stay.”
In addition to her involvement with In the NIC of Time, Ella proudly serves as the vice president of the Sign Off Club at her school.
Ella Howard, Sophomore at Mountain Island Charter School
“I decided to join In the NIC of Time because, over the years, I have had family and friends in the Levine Children’s NICU… My mom is a founding member of the Cottie & Cake Fund. Through her efforts, I have been able to see all of the different ways in which they have contributed to the NICU. I was super excited when she told me there was an opportunity for me to not only be a part of supporting the NICU, but to be a part of the first ever youth-led initiative of its kind!
Our committee hopes to raise funds to make the family’s time in the NICU as easy and as comfortable as possible, while also helping to upgrade technology used to care for the babies.”
In addition to serving on the In the NIC of Time committee, Ella has helped run Vacation Bible School at Assurance United Methodist Church for over 250 kids. She has also organized a neighborhood food drive, volunteered through Room In The Inn, hosted several fundraisers at swim meets, and organized a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot to raise additional money for Levine Children’s NICU.
Thomas Jokinen, Sophomore at Charlotte Christian High School
“My brother was in the ICU when he was little, and I want to help other kids who need the most care. I am passionate about serving as a committee member for In the NIC of Time because I know from experience how much [being in the hospital] wears everyone down and how sad and scary it can be.”
Emily Kosofsky, Senior at Myers Park High School
“I decided to get involved with the NIC of Time because the NICU is a very important place to help save babies’ lives. It is always a blessing to welcome new souls into the world, and I am very passionate about fundraising for the Levine Children’s Neonatology program.
We hope to make an impact on every family that comes though the NICU by making sure they receive the best possible care. We hope that we are able to raise enough money to be able to purchase new technology for the NICU.”
Ella Little, Junior at Mountain Island Charter School
“I chose to get involved with the NIC of Time because I saw the impact they had made in past years and was excited to hear I could be a part of those contributions when they moved to a youth-led board. I’m passionate about giving back to Levine Children’s NICU because I’ve seen the impact they made on my cousin’s and best friend’s lives. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to give back to those who gave so much to the people around me.
Our committee hopes to help improve the experience of everyone who enters the NICU by providing funds to improve their technology and spaces to help comfort patient families.”
In addition to her involvement with In the NIC of Time, Ella is part of her school’s Key Club and National Honors Society. She has raised money for the Humane Society and volunteers with Assurance United Methodist Church and Christ United Methodist Church through programs like Room at the Inn, Operation Christmas Child, and CCC.
Charlotte Morris, Freshman at Myers Park High School
“I decided to get involved with In the NIC of Time because of how paramount the organization is to families, workers, and anyone who comes through the NICU. I also have firsthand connections with families who have been through the NICU and heard about how much it changed their lives. I am passionate about giving back to the NICU because of all the incredible things they do to ensure families get the best care possible, whether by dedication or comfort. With our fundraising efforts, our committee hopes to ensure anyone involved in the NICU has the most comfortable and supportive journey as possible.”
Ann Douglas O’Brien, Junior at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I joined the NIC of Time committee because I wanted to get involved in my community. There is no better way than helping sick babies and hopefully making the mothers comfortable. I’m passionate about giving back to through the committee because no one should ever have to be in a position like this, and I’d like to make it as easy as possible.
The group and I hope to positively impact all families that walk through the NICU doors. Whether that be from advancing technology or creating a more comfortable environment for the family!”
In addition to serving on In the NIC of Time’s youth committee, Ann Douglas was part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Student Visionaries of the Year program in 2023, for which her team placed second. working to raise money to fight blood cancer.
Towne Pack, Freshman at Myers Park High School
“I was excited to join the NIC of Time’s committee to help give back to my community. Just last year, someone close to my mom had a child in the NICU at Levine Children’s for several months. Her son is now thriving because of the care he received there. The mother spent many hours daily in the NICU and referenced contributions made to the facility by the Cottie & Cake Fund. She was personally impacted by this amazing organization, so I was thrilled when I had the chance to get involved myself and help make a difference for others!”
In addition to serving on the NIC of Time’s youth-led board, Towne is the Social Committee Manager for the Wayfinders Club at Myers Park High School. She is also a Hopeful Hearts and Clothes for Change member and volunteers with Christ Episcopal Church to support organizations like Room In the Inn.
Hunt Perry, Senior at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I got involved with this charity to do good for the community and help the next generation succeed with healthy lives. I’m passionate about giving back because I was born at Levine [Children’s]. Our committee hopes to help families struggling with child care and wants the best love for everyone that comes through the hospital’s NICU.”
Henry Pleune, Senior at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I learned about In the NIC of Time through the Hampton family. [The NICU] is an often underfunded part of a hospital. Even I did not really understand how great and needed this initiative is until I joined.
We want every family that comes through the NICU to feel comfortable in what can be a very stressful time. Upgrading all essential equipment used by nurses, doctors, and patients are the ways which we are trying to achieve our goal.”
In addition to his involvement with In the NIC of Time, Henry is part of Freedom School Club and Fashion Breathes Life.
Ledare Roush, Senior at Myers Park High School
“I decided to get involved with In the NIC of Time after attending last year’s “Winter Wonderland Gala” and learning about the many ways that this committee helps families in need. The NIC of Time committee hopes to give every family that comes through the NICU the best care possible by raising money for new equipment to make these families lives easier and bring awareness to the what they are going through.
For the past two years I have been a volunteer at Atrium Health in the Women’s Institute working with nurses that specialize in high risk pregnancy ultrasounds as well as generic counselors. I also volunteer in the fetal care unit assisting new mothers. Seeing mothers in need first hand sparked my passionate for giving back to Levine Children’s neonatology program.”
Sulli Strouse, Junior at Mountain Island Charter School
“I learned about In the NIC of Time through one of my best friends whose mom was involved in the committee before it was a high school-run organization. I was excited to have the opportunity to join and participate in a cuase that is so close to my heart, as I was in the NICU when I was born. Giving back to Levine Children’s is so important because their NICU is crucial to the well-being of the babies and families like mine that need the recourses that they offer.
Through our fundraising efforts, NIC of Time is striving to increase the comfort of all the families and make the care that they receive is best that it can possibly be.”
In addition to serving as a committee member for In the NIC of Time, Sulli is involved with her church youth group and several student clubs.
Benton Vann, Sophomore at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I wanted to join the NICU committee because of my uncle, Aidan, who was born prematurely and with muscular dystrophy. He is 20 years younger than my mom, and we are very close. He was born at just three pounds, and I know how hard that was on my Nonna. I’m grateful to be a part of this wonderful organization that’s helping to raise money for NICU babies.”