Grieving Mom Raises Millions For Families That Can't Afford To Visit The NICU

by Sarah Hosseini

Mom loses her son and honors his life by helping other families

Medical bills can grow exponentially when you or a loved one is sick. Every test, scan and pill is tallied — even if you have health insurance the cost can be astronomical. But what about the other costs that don’t show up on your hospital bill? We never even think about the cost of transportation — whether it’s a bus ticket, train ride, or gas for a car. And what about parking fees? It all adds up.

Carrie Meghie, mother and co-founder of Jackson Chance Foundation knows this reality all too well.

She spent 10-months by her son, Jackson Chance’s side in the NICU at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. She told CNN she was really fortunate to visit every day, but she noticed other families were not. “It was really surprising and kind of heart-breaking to see … and it’s for a variety of reasons. But it became clear to us that the cost of getting to the hospital and parking was one of those reasons,” she said in the CNN interview.

In many bigger cities hospitals don’t have their own parking areas. NICU parents have to pay for whatever is available nearby. It’s an unexpected cost that most families don’t even think about, especially when they’re so focused on the health of their baby. At one point, Meghie realized she and her husband paid almost $2,000 in parking fees – and that was just one month.

Meghie’s son, Jackson Chance died in 2012 right before his birthday. She had to go through one of life’s most unimaginable pains – the loss of a child.

“After he passed, I felt blessed to be his mom and I really wanted to turn my grief into something and celebrate him,” Meghie told Scary Mommy in an interview.

And celebrate his life did she ever.

In 2013, Meghie started the nonprofit, The Jackson Chance Foundation, which provides free parking and transportation to all NICU families at the Lurie Children’s Hospital. That means families have all the access they want to their babies. In roughly three short years, the foundation has raised $1.5 million dollars to cover parking fees. For all of the group’s great work, Meghie was named a CNN Hero. Meghie says the exposure has been really great for the foundation. “It’s always bittersweet, but it makes me feel really proud,” Meghie says.

She says the group is using the momentum to hopefully help more families. They hope to get their program into a nearby women’s hospital that has a NICU twice the size of their current hospital. All of these goals and accomplishments are no doubt helping with the healing process, but Meghie admits the grief will always be apart of her.

“People say time heals, but my heart will be broken forever,” Meghie says. “I’ve found ways to heal through the heartbreak. The time I spend on the foundation is the time I’d be spending with him.”