Atrium Health Cabarrus Inaugural Lights of Love
2022 Lights of Love Tree Lighting Ceremony
CONCORD, N.C. (August 8, 2022) — It was a warm and beautiful night to have the first Lights of Love Tree Lighting Ceremony. The Lights of Love program, presented by Wilkinson Funeral Home, gave our donors the opportunity to honor or memorialize someone who has made an impact on their lives. The ceremony, held on November 29th, at the Margie Campbell Healing Garden, was well attended with over 100 guests who joined together to remember those they recognized through the Lights of Love program.
We had many guest speakers during the ceremony, including our very own Angela Clark, Director of Spiritual Care and Education. Angela shared how her department touches almost every single patient or family at Atrium Health Cabarrus. Our Spiritual Care and Education Department is the beneficiary of our inaugural Lights of Love program. Angela shared one of many heartfelt stories of patients they cared for while at our hospital, Atrium Health Cabarrus.
Rhonda Wright, Assistant Vice President of Patient Care Services and co-chair of the program shared a special story that evening about the star at the top of the tree. The star was named after baby Hope, who left this earth way too soon. Hope was born at 25 weeks and 3 days. She was a one-pound micro-preemie, full of love and light. Although she was with us for a short time, she was the tiniest, feistiest fighter. Hope was born to Nathan and Angela Preston and big sister, Eloise. Baby Hope was not growing, and the best chance of survival was having her admitted to the NICU. Hope stayed in the Atrium Health Cabarrus NICU after she was born where she received extensive medical care. This little one endured Blood transfusions, ventilator and PICC line.
Hope’s parents shared the impact her life had on those around her; she showed strength and a fighting spirit. She gave an immense love and light over her 16 short days. Hope was the size of her dad’s hand and fought to survive from day one. One of the hardest times during this roller coaster was not being able to hold baby Hope. Hope’s big sister, Eloise told everyone how beautiful her baby sister was despite all the medical equipment Hope had on her tiny body. As things spiraled down more, the staff made sure Hope’s family understood every step that was being taken. Later that night, after placing Hope on the ventilator, mom held both of her daughters for the very first time.
The extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins came to visit her in the NICU, and photos were captured. Hope was dedicated by their family’s pastor, Rev. Mike Field from Hope Church Charlotte. Her parents were preparing for the hardest day to come. But the next day, God sent their little family a miracle. As Hope’s parents were giving her a bath, she began to interact more and liven up. Her skin went from pale gray to pink and she was splashing water with her tiny arms and legs. God gave them an extra day with Hope to hold her, love her and make memories before she passed away on February 13, 2019.
Hope’s story did not end on February 13th. Although this was a difficult time, Hope’s family knew they needed to share her story and support families with similar experiences. For Hope’s first birthday, their family and friends put together 60 NICU Hope baskets (which are care packages for NICU families) and delivered them to the NICU. This was just the beginning of sharing Hope’s story. Angela and her cousin Alicia, the NICU mom of Max— a healthy, smart and playful now 9-year-old, decided to start a nonprofit, Maximizing Hope, in honor of Max’s 71 days in the NICU and Hope’s 16 days of life.
Since its official launch in September 2021, they have delivered over 100 NICU baskets, 50 NICU graduate kits, and dozens of other care packages. Angela and Alicia regard it as an honor that Maximizing Hope is considered to be in partnership with the Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation as they keep Hope’s memory alive by bringing comfort to families staying in the same NICU where she lived her short time. After Hope’s story was shared, the best part was watching Eloise turn the switch on and light the top of the star along with the 20-foot Christmas tree in memory of Hope.
Throughout the ceremony, our guests shared many stories. Tears were shed of memories of those they chose to honor or remember during our first Tree Lighting Ceremony. We would like to thank Jay Wilkinson and Wilkinson Funeral Home for being our presenting sponsor for Lights of Love. A big thank you to our four co-chairs: Mayor Bill Dusch, Jane Jacobs, Kenny Winn and Rhonda Wright.
2022 Lights of Love Tree Lighting Ceremony
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About Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation
Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation was created in 1994 to support one of our community’s most valued assets, Atrium Health Cabarrus. Community leaders were invited to establish a Foundation Board of Directors whose mission was to secure additional financial support solely for Atrium Health Cabarrus. Through an organized program of fund development with families, friends, businesses and neighbors, this mission continues today. Gifts to Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation are considered gifts of love and support from the community. The gifts acknowledge the importance of preserving and enhancing the health status of our community.
The mission of Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation is to Improve Health, Elevate Hope and Advance Healing for all through awareness of and fundraising for Atrium Health Cabarrus.
For more information on the Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation visit
www.CabarrusHealthcareFoundation.org or call 704-403-1369.