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Farmer family giving back to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit



    A young Drumheller family beat the odds with the support of the Calgary Foothills Medical Centre Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
    And now, they want to give back.
    Lonnie and Korilee Farmer are busy planning a fundraiser, and then will be participating in this year’s Mother's Day Run and Walk Road Race to raise funds for the Calgary Health Trust Neonatal Intensive Care Units. This is in appreciation for the support they received last summer.
    “After the excitement cleared we decided to give something back,” Lonnie told The Mail. “They basically saved my son’s life. They kept him alive for 131 days.”
    The Farmer family’s journey began in the fall of 2012 when the learned they were expecting. Like any first-time parents, they were excited and bursting at the seams trying to keep it a secret through the first trimester. They also learned they were doubly blessed with fraternal twins.
    “We were beside ourselves with joy,” Korilee writes in a piece she wrote called Our Tiny Miracle, to mark World Prematurity Day. “It was everything we never knew we wanted. Our life was changed forever at that moment.”
    With twins, the doctor visits and the ultrasound appointments increased. They looked forward to these appointments, however at about 19 weeks there were some matters of concern for the family. Korilee was put on bed rest.
    Despite this, the babies knew it was time and on Saturday, May 11, they were born at just over 24 weeks.

    “We were a mix of emotions – shock for what had happened, sorrow to end my pregnancy, fear of the unknown, joy at becoming parents and love for these two beautiful, tiny boys,” writes Korilee. “As soon as the umbilical cords were cut and each boy was stabilized by their own team of medical professionals, they were whisked away to the Foothills NICU.”
    Shorty after, the parents went to visit their babies.
    “Through the misty glass of the isolets each babe glistened like fresh dew in the sunlight. Their bodies were covered in a lubricant to protect their delicate skin and they were wrapped in a plastic covering.  My heart ached with love for these little babes. Although they were tiny (just under a pound and a half each), they looked perfect!” writes Korilee.
    They named the boys Marek Kevin and Cohen Robert.
    The parents took turns sitting in the NICU beside their children as the staff worked around the clock monitoring all aspects of the delicate babies. On day 5 the parents were able to hold their children.
    “The feeling was indescribable. Teary eyed and happy, this was the moment I truly felt like a Mom. I was hooked and looked forward to daily holds," Korilee wrote.
    It was not long until a harsh reality began to set in for the parents. Having a micro–prem (born before 26 weeks) is a delicate situation and it became clear that little Marek was having difficulty, and at 15 days his family had to say goodbye.
    “Losing a child is something I would not wish on anyone.  Even though we only had Marek for 15 days, the pain was unbearable. However, we needed to stay a strong family unit. We still had Cohen. He needed our love and support more than ever,” writes Korilee.
    They watched as Cohen struggled through his journey. He showed true determination and resilience as every part of him slowly grew and developed. After 131 days, the family came home together for the first time.
    The parents have nothing but praise for the NICU.
    “This day was bittersweet. We were finally going home. On the other hand, we were leaving what had become family over the past four months. Nurses told us that NICU will become a distant memory one day… I sometimes well up with tears.  Tears manifested over many memories of the NICU. They are of hardships, overcoming obstacles, celebrating achievements and especially tears of thanks. I hope the Foothills NICU never becomes a distant memory; it is the place where we first met our two little boys.  Without the Foothills NICU we would not have our baby Cohen,” she said.
    To show their appreciation for “the NICU family” that helped bring life to their own family, on Saturday, April 26, they will be holding a dinner and silent auction fundraiser, at the Cretaceous Conference Centre. Tickets are already sold out, and they have a full slate of items for the silent auction.
    “We have hired an improv group out of Edmonton for entertainment,” said Lonnie. "This thing has taken on a life of its own, we sold out right away.”
    The family has entered the Sport Chek Mother’s Day Run and Walk on Saturday, May 11 (Cohen’s first birthday). This event raises money for all the Calgary Health Trust NICUs. The Farmer family is asking supporters to pledge their team to raise funds for this good cause.
    To support the family, simply go to http://www.mdrunandwalk.com and click on the “Make a pledge” link, and search for Lonnie or Korilee Farmer.  Tax receipts will be emailed. They have raised more than $2,000 already and are aiming to raise $5,000. They are confident they will reach this goal.
    For more information, contact the family at 403-823-9720.

DVSS teacher nominated for excellence award



    Drumheller Valley Secondary School (DVSS) teacher Jeff Messom has been nominated for provincial recognition this year.
    Messom is a semi-finalist in the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards.
    Messom has been a teacher for fifteen years, the last eight of those at DVSS.
    Prior to that he taught in Carbon.
    “Our semi-finalists use their expertise and creativity every day to make a powerful and lasting impact in the lives of their students.”
    “We are proud of their achievements and thank them for their contributions,” said the Honourable Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education, in a written statement.
    This is the 26th year for the annual awards from the Ministry of Education.
    Semi-finalists receive a certificate and access to $1,500 in professional development funds.
    Twenty award winners are selected from the semi-finalists in May.
    Messom was nominated for the award by colleagues at DVSS.
     Messom is humbled by the nomination.
 “It’s pretty cool,”  he said.

Drumheller RCMP ramping up traffic enforcement

The Drumheller RCMP is reminding drivers of the seriousness of obeying traffic signals.
  Staff Sergeant Art Hopkins says with the disappearance of snow, it appears drivers are in more of hurry to get places. He notes during these past two weeks, he has seen many drivers failing to come to a stop at stop signs.
    “They are treating the stop sign more like a yield sign. Further, drivers are making right hand turns at stop signs or red lights while barely slowing down. If all that was required was to “yield to oncoming traffic” there would be a yield sign there not a stop sign,” said Hopkins.
    He said the definition of stop is pretty simple.
    “To stop means to cause your vehicle to cease movement completely,” he said. 
    He goes on to say that collisions at intersections often result in injuries to occupants, and these are simply avoided by obeying the traffic signals and stop signs.
    “As a result of my observations and concerns, I have instructed the members of this detachment to pay close attention to stop signs and red lights and to increase enforcement of those offences. A fine of failing to stop is $287 and carries with it three demerit points,” said Hopkins adding he has also asked officers to increase enforcement of distracted driving.
    “Please help by increasing your awareness and stop when required.  Do not drive while being distracted. Should you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact the Drumheller detachment at (403) 823-7590,” he said.