Wine-tasting dinner, auction has raised more than $100,000 for hospital

Gary Kean
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CORNER BROOK  When Jessica Penney had her second prematurely born child last month, she took comfort knowing she and her little boy could be cared for in Corner Brook.

Jessica Penney of Corner Brook plays with her son Théo, who was born prematurely April 11.

Little Théo was born April 11 at 35 weeks. His breathing troubles cleared up within hours, but he did have jaundice and was too weak to feed on his own regularly.

That meant a hospital stay of about two weeks after his unexpected birth.

“When they are born early, I guess it takes them a little more time and they use up all their energy trying to grow and put on weight,” said Penney. “He was very lucky because he was really healthy when he came out.”

Just 18 months before, Penney and her husband Marshall had their second child, a son named Asher. He was born at 33 weeks and had to be cared for in St. John’s.

Marshall is a commercial diver who was working in Iraq at the time Asher was born. Penney went to the hospital with what she thought were cramps and found herself being airlifted to St. John’s for the delivery.

Fortunately, Marshall was home when Théo came early.

“At least this time I was a little bit more prepared and they were too, knowing that I had a premature baby before,” she said of the hospital staff.

The Penneys have a third son, four-year-old Cameron, who was born after a full-term pregnancy.

On June 15, there will be a special fund-raiser for Western Memorial Regional Hospital’s maternal newborn unit. This will be the 12th year for the event, a wine-tasting dinner and silent auction held at Strawberry Hill.

The annual event, as it always has, will feature a selection of fine and rare wines from the special collection of Paul Dicks paired with a seven-course gourmet meal. Dicks, a lawyer and former provincial cabinet minister, has donated wines from his personal collection to this cause for years.

To date, the dinner and auction has raised $102,583 for the unit. There is no particular item to be purchased with the money raised this year, but funds raised in the past have been used to buy equipment such as pulse oximeters, bassinets, smart scales and surgical tables for the unit.

Penney said it’s great that the unit where she and her family received such important care is being supported by the community in a significant way.

“It’s nice to know they have the technology to keep some babies here in Corner Brook so they don’t have to go to St. John’s,” she said.

There are only 16 seats available for the wine-tasting dinner and silent auction. As of press time Friday, there were still three seats available.

Anyone interested in finding out more, can contact the Western Memorial Hospital Foundation at 637-5353.

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Memorial Hospital Foundation

Geographic location: Iraq, Corner Brook

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