By Heather Barrow
February 16th is a holiday in our home for two reasons: it is the day my water broke in 2009, 24 weeks into my pregnancy and the day in 2011 that our family founded High Risk Hope (HRH). HRH’s birthday means we not only celebrate HRH’s accomplishments, but also recognize our family’s sacrifices on hospital bed rest in the months before Hill was born on April 15, 2009 and every day since. It is a day I keep my HRH Baby home from school and reflect on what we’ve done right and wrong and what we dare to dream for the future.
I don’t remember much of my unexpected acceptance speech for HRH’s winning the WEDU Be More Unstoppable Nonprofit Of The Year award last Thursday. To say we were surprised is an understatement. While our HRH board members are notoriously confident, we did not (for a minute) expect to win this coveted award. HRH was up against over one hundred non-profits across the region and several worthy finalists, such as Ruth Eckerd Hall, who has been around for decades longer than HRH. I do remember sharing a big secret with the audience that almost every day over the past four years I have woken up terrified about what we were planning for HRH at any given time. From making our first hospital delivery at SJWH to moving into office space in Ybor City to our expansion to TGH to hiring our first employee (who has had a whirlwind first week), every eventual accomplishment was preceded by a large opportunity for failure. I followed that revelation with the quote that I repeat to myself every morning (including today), “If you’re dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough” Ellen Sirleaf.
I’ve learned over the past four years that big dreams are terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Big dreams are accompanied by huge risks and extreme highs and lows and this is certainly true for HRH. While all of you know HRH shouts our accomplishments from the rooftops, we rarely publicize our failures. For every sponsorship secured or award won, there is another we have lost. For every one of the 2,600 HRH Babies we’ve helped since 2011, there are 60 million more premature babies we couldn’t help. We know what HRH is doing is important, and has a ripple effect on premature babies through out their lives, but there will always be someone who isn’t a believer. Rather than focusing on these ‘failures’ we believe “if you’re not against us you’re with us” and know at some point that every no will become a yes and every skeptic will become a supporter. We know that although reaching 2,600 babies is only a sliver of those in need, we have impacted those 2,600 babies for life, and that is incredible.
We see the infinite potential this for purpose organization has, and dream of one day helping prolong pregnancies and improve the outcomes for premature infants across the globe. It is why we say “High Risk Hope is a catalyst in the global fight to end premature birth; winning a life-long victory with every baby we help”. While we are not yet global, I dream we will be and that is the most terrifying dream of all. I hope each person reading this today with stick with HRH and remember the day when we were ‘just’ helping preemies in your hometown.