Awarding the Selfless: The NICU Heroes Award

  • In an ongoing commitment to recognizing outstanding care and support in the neonatal practice, Mead Johnson Nutrition has partnered with Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) parent support organization, to present the annual NICU Heroes Award.

    An independent panel of NICU health care professionals and families from across the country nominate neonatal nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals who helped make a difference for their preterm or medically fragile newborns.

    Each honoree is recognized at an NICU Heroes Award ceremony at his or her respective hospital and receives a trophy, certificate, and a $2,500 donation in their name to the pediatric healthcare charity of their choice. The hospital also receives a one-year subscription to Hand to Hold’s NICU Resource Library, which provides educational materials parents can use during their child’s NICU stay.

    Perhaps most importantly, the nominees receive a copy of the nominating family’s essay, which shares the heartwarming difference their work made for the family.

    “As an NICU parent of two preemies, I know firsthand how scary it is to have a baby born early and how it affects the entire family,” says Kelli Kelley, founder and executive director of Hand to Hold. “Having a compassionate healthcare provider who is focused not only on a baby’s health but on the health of the whole family can make a life-changing difference.”

    Past Winners

    Congratulations to our previous winners!


    • Neonatologist Aryan Azimi-Zonooz, M.D., from St. Charles Health System in Bend, Oregon
    • Neonatal Nurse Joann Thorpe, RNC, from Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center Redding in Redding, California.


    • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Horecky of Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina
    • Neonatologist Stewart Lawrence, MD, of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho