Basketball showcase raises money for NICUs

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Western Albemarle High School hosted the third annual "Play for Preemies" showcase Saturday to raise money for neo-natal intensive care units.

Twelve basketball teams played throughout the day in six different games, where organizers raised money through ticket sales and concessions.

Kris Wright, the coach for the girl's varsity basketball team at WAHS, said this event means a lot to his family because of how much time they've spent in the NICU.

His twins, Colin and Nora, were born at 29 weeks. Colin was able to go home after spending 10 weeks in the NICU, but Nora passed away at three weeks old.

"Our daughter passed away when she was three weeks old to an infection she couldn't fight off," said Wright.

The Wright family had another daughter, Avery, who was also born prematurely at 31 weeks.

The experience inspired Wright to give back with the "Play for Preemies" showcase and give back to the doctors and nurses that helped his family.

"In total, we've spent something like 20 weeks in NICUs in our lives," he said. "We understand that the doctors and nurses and all the people who work with these babies are really superheroes."

Kathryn Crickenberger, a NICU nurse at the University of Virginia Children's Hospital, was at the event representing the NICU center.

She said Kris Wright used to be her basketball coach and hearing about his situation inspired her to become a NICU nurse.

"I think I was a junior in high school when he actually had Colin and Nora, so it really impacted me and I knew I wanted to be a nurse and then they made me want to be a NICU nurse," said Crickenberger.

Crickenberger said the event has grown over the past three years.

This year, Wright hopes to break last year's goal of $5,600 to give back to the places that helped him and his family.

"The money is going directly to babies and families that we've already been," said Wright.

The money raised during this year's showcase will benefit the NICU units at UVA Children's Hospital and Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital.

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