After more than a decade of fundraising for Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Hampton and Russ families are breathing new life into their signature event, In the NIC of Time. 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. Together, the dedicated group of teens hosted a “Winter Wonderland” event in December, raising over $87,000 in support of the most medically fragile patients treated in Levine Children’s NICU.
The initiative, which benefits the Cottie and Cake Fund at Atrium Health Foundation, has helped purchase NICU webcams and privacy screens, upgrade NICU sleep rooms, support the NICU Journey Bead program, and purchase state-of-the-art surgical equipment.
Introducing In the NIC of Time’s Youth Committee:
Kate Cooke, Junior at Myers Park High School
“I chose to be on the committee and help support the Levine Children’s [NICU] because I love babies. I wanted to do something to help the families and babies in the NICU community because what they have to go through is heartbreaking.”
Ella Eisenhauer, Freshman at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I jumped at the opportunity to join this committee because of the impact the Levine Children’s Hospital NICU has had on my best friend’s family, and I was also inspired by In the NIC of Time’s 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 to their community. 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 her school and church, including through Catholic Charities and Angel Tree.
Lilly Gordon, Junior at Myers Park High School
“When I heard about the organization, I decided to join the committee because it was something I was interested in getting involved in and wanted others to be interested in, as well.”
Ella Hampton, Freshman at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I decided to join In the NIC of Time’s committee because it has directly impacted my family. The NICU at Levine Children’s saved my sister’s life, and our family will always be grateful to the doctors, nurses, and staff. I think our family will always want to do what we can to give back to them and help future families that have children in the NICU. I think our community is lucky to have this life-saving specialty in our backyard. I would love to continue to make it a better place!”
Ella was previously recognized as an Atrium Health Young Ambassador through her longstanding support of Levine Children’s Hospital through In the NIC of Time.
Ella Howard, Freshman at Mountain Island Charter School
“I decided to serve on In the NIC of Time’s committee because, over the years, I have had family and friends in the Levine Children’s NICU. I saw the impact that it had on their lives, and I wanted to help support it in any way that I could. 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.”
In addition to serving on In the NIC of Time’s youth committee, Ella leads Vacation Bible School at Assurance United Methodist Church for over 250 kids each year. During the coronavirus pandemic, she organized a food drive for a food pantry in West Charlotte. She has also volunteered with Room In The Inn to provide food and accommodations to the homeless, organized various fundraisers at swim meets, and participated in a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot to raise money for Levine Children’s NICU.
Ella Little, Sophomore at Mountain Island Charter School
“I chose to be on the committee and support Levine Children’s NICU because I’ve seen the impact they made for many very special people in my life. When I heard about the opportunity, I was excited to get the chance to give back to those who gave so much to the people around me.”
Ella is a member of her school’s Key Club, a student leadership organization focused on community service, and has raised money for the humane society by auctioning off paintings. She also volunteers with Assurance United Methodist Church and Christ United Methodist Church to support organizations like Room at the Inn and Carolina Cross Connection.
Isabella Miller, Junior at Myers Park High School
“My family has been closely connected to In the NIC of Time for a decade. My mother, Miranda, joined the committee ten years ago, and in 2022, I was excited to serve on the first-ever youth committee. Being part of this committee is very important to me as I’ve seen several friends receive the benefit of Levine Children’s care. One of my best friends, Lilly, spent 3 months in Levine Children’s NICU, so I was especially motivated to give back to this specialty area.”
Outside of her time on the youth committee, Bella likes to stay active in her community. She has tutored students at Dilworth Elementary, participated in multiple fundraiser walks, and contributed to numerous toy and coat drives. She and her family also organize an initiative called “Homeless Hand-up” multiple times a year, handing out blankets that have been sewn together with recycled fabric from her dad’s company, toiletries, and other necessities to those in need in Uptown Charlotte.
Andrew O’Brien, Senior at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I got involved with In the NIC of Time because I wanted to make sure that young children would have the opportunity to grow up and enjoy their lives. These children deserve to be able to experience life to the fullest, and Levine’s NICU helps them to do just that.”
Andrew has served as Student Council President for four years and is responsible for planning and organizing many service projects that benefit numerous communities around Charlotte.
Ann Douglas O’Brien, Sophomore at Charlotte Catholic High School
“I joined the NIC of Time Youth Committee because I wanted to get involved in my community. There is no better to do so than by helping sick babies and hopefully making mothers’ process as easy and comfortable as possible.”
In addition to serving on In the NIC of Time’s youth committee, Ann Douglas is part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Student Visionaries of the Year campaign, working to raise money to fight blood cancer.
Sulli Strouse, Sophomore at Mountain Island Charter School
“I was transferred into the NICU when I was born and stayed there until I was healthy enough to go home. When I heard about In the NIC of Time from some close friends, I thought it was a great opportunity to get involved in a good cause that is also very close to my heart.”
Sulli also participates in many community service events through Christ United Methodist Church, including Room in the Inn, Sandwich Ministry, and Carolina Cross Connection.