Next month will see all roads leading to Beddington Park, London, for Ickle Pickles’ first-of-its-kind charity event – the 28K Incubator Push challenge. Set to be the Charity’s most unique endeavour yet, the one-of-a-kind fundraiser event on July 13th is set to rally communities and hospitals nationwide to raise critical funds for life-saving neonatal care units.

Essential equipment like incubators, ventilators, oxygen, brain monitors, and feeding pumps form the backbone of a neonatal unit. But they are pretty expensive. An incubator costs £28,000 and approximately £2000 a day for a baby to be cared for in a neonatal unit. Babies born between 28-31 weeks need to be cared for in a neonatal unit for an average of 44 days, and with one in thirteen babies being born prematurely each year in the UK, Ickle Pickles is on a mission to give every newborn a fighting chance.

“There is no greater fight than ensuring a child has the chance to survive,” says Julie Voong, an ambassador at the Ickle Pickle Children’s Charity. “These ‘ickle pickles,’ as we affectionately call them, need critical care in neonatal units, and specialised equipment is vital for their survival. So, we are calling on you to help us raise essential funds for sick and premature babies. Become a NeoHero.”

Mum Lisa Baker, who shared her daughter Emily’s own story to raise funds to support a local charity years ago, said that many don’t realise the importance of fundraising for neonatal equipment.  Lisa said:

“My daughter Emily was only a few weeks early, but respiratory distress is common for early babies like her.  It was terrifying to see her gasping for breath and the skill of the hospital that saved her life was matched by the hi-tech equipment they used to save her.  However, at the time, we were shocked that they only had two oxygen monitors and had that hospital had three poorly babies, they would literally have to choose which ones they helped.  Also, much of the equipment in the unit had been bought through donations, which is scary when they do such vital work.  It was a similar situation when 18 months later, my daughter Amy was born 13 weeks early – an ‘ickle pickle’ that weighed just 725g at one point.

“My friend Lynette experienced the same wonderful care despite overstretched resources.  Sadly she later lost her beautiful son Jamie to a cot death. Determined to make Jamie’s short life count, Lynette and her husband decided to raise money to buy an additional oxygen monitor for  the unit that cared for him.  I was delighted to play a small part by sharing my story on Practical Parenting, where we also highlighted hers, and donated my writers fee.  However, the publicity helped too and donations came in to boost the funds they had raised already – one of the proudest moments of my life was when Lynette and her husband were able to donate an oxygen monitor to the unit.  Years later, while his loss is still very keenly felt, as any Mum will understand, knowing that Jamie’s legacy has continued to help save tiny lives has been of some comfort, and the babies the equipment saved are now raising their own babies.

“My own special care babies and my eldest daughter are all grown up with families and good careers and are living life to the full – and I am grateful every day.  Sadly, though despite more than thirty years passing in a heartbeat, neonatal units are still struggling for funding, equipment and resources and work miracles daily with what they have – so please support this campaign if you can.”

The 28K Incubator Push charity event promises an epic day of endurance – 28 laps to raise 28K in honour of the tiniest patients yet the biggest fighters. But this challenge is about more than just raising money for much-needed neonatal equipment; it’s about bringing awareness to the challenges faced by sick and premature babies and their families and improving neonatal care for a brighter tomorrow. “We’ve been supporting neonatal care with life-saving equipment since 2009,” added Rachael, co-founder of Ickle Pickles and mum of a premature boy. “Though a novel fundraising concept, this Incubator Push Challenge is a testament to our dedication to providing unique ways for everyone to participate in fighting for every child’s survival.”

Among the participants is Jack, a young boy who was born prematurely and survived thanks to the care he received at a neonatal unit supported by Ickle Pickles. With a deeply personal connection to Ickle Pickles’ cause, Jack and his parents are determined to give back to help other babies like Jack get the best start in life. “We owe so much for the support we received for our son,” said Jack’s parents. The grateful family calls on people from all walks of life to join them on July 13th for Ickle Pickles’ 28K Incubator Push charity challenge.

The Ickle Pickles Charity invites hospitals, companies, and communities to participate in its groundbreaking fundraising initiative. Visit Ickle Pickles to sign up for an individual lap or register to take turns as a team. “Whether you participate in the incubator push, volunteer with us, donate or simply share our stories, you can make a difference to sick and premature babies.”

About Ickle Pickles:

Ickle Pickles is a Children’s Charity that works and campaigns nationally to give every newborn a chance. Since 2009, the Charity has bought small and large equipment for over 50 neonatal units around the UK and continues to fight for the survival of every ickle pickle.