NARRAGANSETT–The first annual Polar Plunge organized by Project Sweet Peas will take place at George’s of Galilee Beach this Saturday. Although the town of Narragansett is not unfamiliar with such frigid rituals, this time the goal is more than mere novelty.
Project Sweet Peas is a non-profit, nationwide network of parents who have experienced the harsh realities of life with their children in Intensive Care Units. Corin Nava, co-founder of Project Sweet Peas, saw her own infant son Gabriel diagnosed with a rare birth defect that kept him hospitalized for 55 days, enduring multiple surgeries.
“Since the defect was not known about in advance, we ended up in the NICU completely unprepared and scared,” said Nava.
“I lived in the NICU for those two months, only going home to get more clothes, while my husband would come up every weekend and day off he could get. It was obviously one of the hardest times of our lives.”
Sadly, Gabriel passed away with his parents at his bedside. Nava would not allow her son’s death, however, to be forgotten. In July 2009, Nava and two other mothers, Kate Crawford and Stephanie Olivarez, who had similar experiences with their children in ICUs began Project Sweet Peas, delivering care packages to families standing vigil beside their hospitalized children.
“When a child is born it is supposed to be the happiest time of your life...but for a mom of a child in the NICU that joy is taken away,” said Nava.
“You are thrown into a world of medical decisions and terminology, and end up relying on the kindness of nurses and strangers. We knew we wanted to give back.”
The three mothers began by compiling a list of items they needed or wanted while living in the ICUs with their children. They then created gift bags and delivered them to families in need at local hospitals. Other mothers joined in to help, and by April 2010 they started “Local” projects, assisted by generous grant money and media coverage from newspapers and TV outlets country-wide.
For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.