CEDAR GROVE, NJ — Cedar Grove residents Joe and Giselle Mongiello are asking for support for the third annual NICUSTRONG Walk on Sept. 13.

Last year's walk was at Van Saun Park in Paramus, but, because of government-imposed crowd restrictions due to COVID-19, this year's walk will be held virtually.

Founded by the Mongiellos, money raised through the walk will be donated for the vital equipment and patient and family needs of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Hackensack Meridian Health Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, where the Mongiellos' twin daughters, Mia and Mikayla, spent the first months of their lives after their birth 12 weeks premature. They spent almost three months in the Hackensack Hospital NICU. In 2017, the Mongiellos began volunteering at the hospital and in 2018 they started the first  NICUSTRONG walk for Hackensack's NICU.

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Today, Mia and Mikayla are 5 years old and thriving. The Mongiellos credit the NICU at Hackensack Hospital for saving their lives. 

“The staff at Hackensack NICU went above and beyond not only for our daughters but for us,” said the Mongiellos. “We owe them so much and are extremely grateful for saving our little miracles.”

In an effort to give back to the hospital that gave their daughters so much, the Mongiellos joined a family council at Hackensack Hospital to help other families in the NICU. They began volunteering in January 2017, and they are part of several programs that help families navigate the ups and downs of the NICU.

To continue their volunteer efforts and raise money for the NICU, the Mongiellos planned the first ever NICU STRONG walk in 2018 after attending a conference in October 2017 and learning about the idea. Mongiello proposed the walk and the hospital jumped on board to support the Mongiellos.

The Mongiellos hope the walk raises money to support the NICU, which admits about 940 newborns each year. There is a large for innovative treatment and care. To address their medical needs, the hospital provides services for the best possible outcome.

"We're doing this virtually this year, and we just want to keep it going until, hopefully, things get back to normal next year," Mongiello said. 

The donation page will stay up until later in November this year so that fundraising efforts can continue through World Prematurity Day on Nov. 17. 

To learn more and to donate, visit here.