It's hoped a fundraising initiative will provide more equipment at the Griffith Base Hospital to care for premature babies.
Hay residents Sheila Smith and Grant Volz will paddle board 21 kilometers of the Murrumbidgee River on Australia Day in an effort to raise $50,000 for the cause.
Already $32,699 has been donated for the charity, The Running for Premature Babies Foundation, with the monies to go towards acquiring a new giraffe warmer for the hospital.
A Giraffe warmer is designed to observe babies born early and allows doctors to perform procedures such as X-ray examinations and even surgery.
It comes after the couple's son, Oscar, was born 12 weeks premature back in December 2021.
Ms Smith recalled the frightening experience.
"At 1:30am we rushed to Hay hospital, and we were told we had to go to Griffith via ambulance because the baby was coming despite only being at 28 weeks' gestation," she said.
"He was stabilised at the hospital and put into an incubator before he was flown to Canberra.
"While Griffith does have a Giraffe warmer, their special care nursery deals with multiple babies at a time. Quite a lot of the time there might be twins and if a bed is being used or is full then they have to transfer another baby out to another center as they don't have the facilities to cope.
"We were in that situation and as a result, Oscar had to be flown to Canberra. We weren't able to go with him on the flight, so we had to drive there the following day. It was very challenging.
"The staff deal with premature babies every day, so we felt we were in safe hands. We are so grateful to them."
If the fundraiser is successful, Ms Smith and her husband will donate the machine to Griffith Base as a show of gratitude as well as to help ensure other families don't go through the same ordeal.
"We want to give back as well as turn our challenging time into something positive," Ms Smith said.
"The Griffith hospital serves many rural communities like Hay. Having to be in Canberra for weeks on end meant we were 500 kilometers from home. Hopefully this equipment could mean that a family in a similar situation will have further options to stay closer to home rather than be immediately transferred to a larger center," she said.
Meantime, the pair have already taken to the water, training for the event.
"Despite being keen paddle boarders, my husband and I are not naturally gifted athletes," Ms Smith said.
"But like our son did in those first 10 weeks of his life, we will fight, persevere and go from strength to strength with our training to help us achieve our goal.
"This wonderful foundation purchases life-saving neonatal equipment and funds groundbreaking research that give critically ill and premature babies a better chance of survival.
"We greatly appreciate any support offered and we are thrilled with what has come our way so far."
The couple's mission will commence at 6am on Australia Day and it's expected to take four to six hours before they reach the finish line at Hay's Sandy Point Beach.
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