By Sarah Kuper
At 20 weeks pregnant, Liz Rich was delighted to learn she would be having a baby boy.
Then during the appointment, the doctor’s tone quickly turned serious. The baby was diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a potentially lethal condition affecting fetal lung development.
But today, 10-year-old Par Rich is doing well and actively helping to bring understanding and hope to families of babies diagnosed with CDH.
Par recently was named co-captain of the Tiny Hero Hope for the Holidays fundraising drive. Tiny Hero is a nonprofit that aims to quickly get information and resources to families of babies diagnosed with CDH.
When Par was diagnosed, Liz Rich and her husband, Rusty, used individual contacts and the internet to find support from other families.
They found a blog written by another family whose daughter was born with CDH, and they looked to them for hope and information.
Now, Rich said, Tiny Hero is serving that same purpose and more.
“Tiny Hero can help you find doctors and financially help support you in some ways,” she said, “If you are seeing a doctor out of town, they can help find lodging. They are there to give parents resources and support from people who have been where you have been.”
The Rich family temporarily moved to Gainesville, Florida, while a doctor specializing in CDH cared for Rich and Par.
Even though Par doesn’t remember anything about being born with CDH or the following surgery and lengthy NICU stay, he’s got a heart for babies going through what he did.
Rich said Par is setting, rather than following, an example.
“He started doing it all on his own. He was worried about other CDH babies. Par is praying for those babies, he cares about these kids,” Rich said.
Par follows the stories of babies from diagnosis to delivery, making encouraging videos and sending small gifts to parents and newborns.
“It is really a God thing how different babies come across our path. It can really overwhelm you and takes you to a weird spot,” Rich said, “But Par sends a lovey message to them and it isn’t like he is following in my footsteps. I wasn’t sending care packages or anything.”
As part of the Hope for the Holidays fundraiser, Par hopes to raise more than $1,000 using snail mail, social media and word of mouth. Rich said he has taken to fundraising like a pro.
The organization’s nationwide goal is $10,000, but Rich said she anticipates exceeding that number.
Rich is proud of her son and is following his lead.
“It was super scary, but we were overwhelmed by love and kindness from total strangers. For most of the people we are following, they are total strangers to us, but it makes sense to insert ourselves into their lives because we have been through it,” she said, “There are a lot of people who cared for this little boy they didn’t know.”
The money raised through the Hope for the Holidays drive will go toward care packages, financial help for families and other support efforts.
For more information, visit tinyhero.org.
The drive runs through the end of December.