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Community at Work

Your Community at Work. A report on what it takes to make a healthy community.

A small beginning with a big ending

Posted 01/06/2017

Ryan and Aimee Ledger will never forget Sept. 3, 2014. That day, the new parents welcomed their 1 lbs. 6 oz. son Ethan, born 14 weeks early at Community Regional Medical Center. And after 33 days of fighting for his life and overcoming many obstacles in the hospital’s Level 3 NICU, he passed away. 
 
Ethan R. Ledger celebrated his 1 month birthday at Community Regional Medical Center’s Level 3 NICU. Though he overcame many obstacles fighting for his life, he did not live long enough to go home with his family.
“Everything happened so fast,” dad Ryan said. “One minute my wife was fine having a routine ultrasound, and the next she was being rushed to surgery to deliver.”
 
After the shock of an early delivery and then a month of standing by watching his first child struggle valiantly to live, Ryan did the only thing he could think of to keep his son’s legacy alive and to help other NICU families who are still fighting for their child or children. As a former Fresno State football player, he used what connections he had in the community to put together a charity golf tournament. In 2015, friends, family and others in the community came together and raised $20,000 to honor the memory of Ethan R. Ledger – and Ethan’s Hope Foundation was created.
 
“We wanted to give back to the place that gave us so much hope during those 33 days Ethan was with us,” Ryan said. “No one can possibly prepare for the emotions, fatigue and helplessness you experience as a parent of a child in the NICU.”

 
Ryan and Aimee Ledger with 4-year-old daughter Reagan and newborn son Austin at Community Regional’s NICU reunion this year promoting their memorial golf tournament for Ethan’s Hope Foundation. The foundation was created in memory of their son, Ethan Ryan Ledger, who was born 14 weeks premature and lived only 33 days.
Parents of preemies know they get the best care possible at Community Regional with an incredible support system of doctors, nurses, staff, parents, technology, the latest NICU medicine – and the love of their family.
 
But the parents of these tiny, fragile babies are also in need of extensive support, explained Ryan. The main goal of Ethan's Hope Foundation is to provide support to as many families as possible, in a variety of ways. A family's needs while in the NICU can vary from lodging, food, travel/transportation, gas to help with lost income, insurance deductibles, medical needs and the supplies after the NICU stay.
  “Ethan's Hope would like to relieve as much of that financial pressure as we possibly can for whatever needs fit the bill,” Ryan said.
 
This summer, Ryan and Aimee welcomed their second son, Austin, to the world at Clovis Community Medical Center’s Level 2 NICU and just celebrated his graduation not too long ago. Austin is at home now, healthy and thriving.
 
This past year’s golf tournament on Nov. 7, 2016 sold out with more than 150 participants at Sunnyside Country Club – again raising $20,000 to help Community’s NICU and Terry’s House, a hospitality home for many NICU patient families and others at Community Regional. It is Ryan and Aimee’s hope to further Ethan’s legacy by encouraging others to experience the joy of giving.
 
Ashlie Graef reported this story. Reach her at cmcnews@communitymedical.org