Hanging Mistletoe over the doorway, decorating gingerbread cookies and sneaking peeks at presents on Christmas Eve are just some of traditions families celebrate during the holiday season. However, traditions change, especially when an unexpected turn of events lands a child in the hospital.
This Christmas, patients and families of the Ruby Memorial PICU in Morgantown will make new memories while experiencing holiday cheer thanks to a partnership between Liv Hefner Photography and Pryce’s Project.
In hopes to collect gifts for the PICU, Christmas Pajama mini sessions will be offered December 5th and 6th from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the First Church of the Nazarene in Parkersburg. Each 10 minute session by Liv Hefner Photography will include three finished photos and print rights. It is asked that guests bring one (or more) new unwrapped item(s) to the session.
“It is an amazing opportunity for the community to become involved while having fun and getting photos for the family. Not to mention, I also get to wear my pjs while photographing,” Liv said.
Kara Rollyson, the creator of Pryce’s Project, knows firsthand just how far a smile and a blanket can go when spending days on end in a hospital room. Kara and her husband Derek spent 18 days at the PICU in Morgantown after an X-ray and echo showed their son had a coartation of the aorta (narrowing of the aorta). Pryce was life flighted to Ruby Memorial and awaited open heart surgery.
At only five days old, Pryce’s coartation of the aorta was repaired along with a reconstruction of his aortic arch. His chest was left open for two days after the surgery. Even after having his chest closed, Pryce still had a long road of recovery ahead of him. But, the PICU staff made the recovery process a smooth one.
“One of the big things we will always remember is that Pryce was never alone – a nurse was always with him. Even our first day there, we came to the room and the child life coordinator decorated his room and left a blanket and a stuffed elephant. It felt like home instead of a hospital,” Kara said.
Being grateful for the love and kindness they received at Ruby, Kara and Derek wanted to return the favor. At that moment, Pryce’s Project was born. The end goal for the fundraiser is simple: to put smiles on the children’s faces as well as their families.
“The parents remember everything. We will always have memories to hold on to. Infants may not remember opening gifts, but the families will,” Kara said.
Pryce’s Project will hopefully be a yearly event. The Rollysons are working with their pastor to bring the fundraiser not only to their church, but to other places of worship in the area. They also have plans to place drop off boxes at various locations for a larger community outreach.
This year, items collected from the Christmas pajama mini sessions will be sorted and delivered to the Ruby PICU on Dec. 15th.
“It is great to know we can help the PICU team make the stay in their facilities easier on the families. Nothing is easy when you are there, but knowing that people care is the most amazing thing in the world,” Kara said.
Rebecca is a Mineral Wells native attending WVU Parkersburg. By studying public relations, she hopes to one day use her skills to benefit non-profit organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Even though Rebecca loves the written word, she has a passion for history. You can find her digging through postcards at any antique store or giving tours at The Castle of Marietta.
Photography by Liv Hefner