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John Cena x Nurse Tori team up to Help Preemies Thrive!

Being a NICU Nurse, I am very aware of the amazing outcomes we are creating in the NICU population everyday!

Did you know that 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely?

Yes, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely! (37 weeks and younger). That is a lot of premature babies....and a lot of hospitals required to care for each and every premature baby born. However, did you know that many hospitals are limited by funding and are unable to purchase vital equipment needed to help save these babies?!

Working bedside as a NICU nurse, I see the need for this equipment everyday! We could not save the lives and create the best outcomes without our bedside equipment, monitors, and new technologies. That is why when I learned about Brave Beginnings, I passionately teamed up to help support their cause and bring awareness to this issue!

Which is why I was so thrilled to come on with the Brave Beginnings team and John Cena to help spread awareness about this issue!

EXCLUSIVE: John Cena, the actor and pro wrestling champion, will be appearing on theater screens all across the country this summer in a 30-second PSA urging movie-goers to support the work of Brave Beginnings, an initiative of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation that’s helped save the lives of thousands of premature babies.

Brave Beginnings started as a program under the Will Rogers Institute. The Will Rogers Institute was the research and training center created at the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital (a tuberculosis sanitarium closed in 1972). WRI focus is funding pulmonary medicine training fellowships and free educational materials about pulmonary diseases and disorders.

In 2006, another charity from the entertainment industry asked us to partner on a grant to fund an incubator for a hospital in Los Angeles. A couple of years later, the Will Rogers Institute Neonatal Ventilator Program was established. In 2015, the WRI Neonatal Ventilator Program was renamed Brave Beginnings. The program is committed to provide funding for all types of lifesaving equipment in NICUs nationwide, not just ventilator equipment.

Since 2006, Brave Beginnings has contributed millions of dollars to facilities across the United States. Each year, the program spends roughly $1 million in grants awarded to hospitals nationwide. The funds are used to purchase vital equipment for Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) caring for fragile lives born too soon.

The mission of Brave Beginnings is simple: to provide hospital NICUs the equipment they need to ensure that every premature infant has a fighting chance at healthy development. Our goal is to someday be able to fulfill every grant request we receive and not delay a grant for a year or two until funds become available. If a hospital has a need, we want to fulfill it.

Due to the overwhelming need for this type of equipment, the program is expected to triple in size within the next few years!! Brave Beginnings was previously named, “The Will Rogers Institute Neonatal Equipment Grant Program.”

Since 2006, the charity has contributed $7.7 million in grants for life-saving ventilator equipment to neonatal intensive care units at 160 U.S. hospitals. This, the charitable organization says, “has impacted the lives of 176,000 babies.”

Preterm birth remains among the top causes of infant death. A "Preemie" is defined as an infant born earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. At birth, Preemies are at greater risk for both short and long-term health complications than full term infants

Short-term complications include breathing problems such as respiratory distress syndrome, heart issues like patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), hypothermia, gastrointestinal problems and an underdeveloped immune system, which can lead to life-threatening infections. Preemies face potentially lifelong complications such as cerebral palsy, impaired cognitive skills, vision and hearing problems, as well as behavioral and psychological problems.

The care given in the first hour after birth, often known as the “Golden Hour,” is crucial for the long-term health of a Preemie. Having access to the right medical equipment for neonatal care is truly a matter of life and death.

Without adequate neonatal equipment and beds, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff (such as myself) often face the challenging problem of sharing essential equipment amongst Preemies, necessitating moving a baby from one piece of equipment to another.

Research shows that 27% of infants who are moved from one point of care to another experience complications such as hypothermia

We are now saving babies as young as 23-34 weeks!! That is extremely exciting, however we could NOT do this without the help of our new technologies!

It’s assumed that a hospital has everything it needs to take care of patients. That is true, however, in the NICU, hospitals can have a need for more equipment or need to replace outdated equipment, so infants don’t just survive but also have a chance to thrive once they leave the NICU. Their goal is to give medical providers the tools they need to help a premature infant finish developing and limit the chances of a life-long disorder or learning disability. Due to the high rate of premature births in the US (1 in 10 babies born), it is important people understand that there is a generation of children dealing with life-long ailments and that has a huge economic impact on our economy.

Provider Equipment Includes:








And SOOOO much more! This being said, all of these products are expensive & many NICU hospitals can not afford these items.

Annually, Brave Beginnings provides grants for essential neonatal intensive care equipment such as critical airway carts, infant resuscitators, incubators, omnibeds and much more. To date, we have granted $8.1 million to 175 hospitals across the United States. We strive to be the leading grant provider for the purchase of neonatal ventilator equipment and critical pulmonary services for hospitals throughout the US.

I am here to bring awareness to our community & help share their MISSION!

Check out their website to learn more! Spread the word & hopefully we can continue to save every baby.

More recently, stars who’ve pitched in include Barbra Streisand, Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Shirley MacLaine, Julie Andrews, Warren Beatty, Sally Field, Jeff Bridges, Morgan Freeman, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Lily Tomlin, Sharon Stone, Liam Hemsworth, Geena Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tommy Lee Jones, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

Todd Vradenburg (WRMPPF) Executive Director pictured with NICU Nurse Tori Meskin, Paramount’s Kyle Davies, and Brave Beginnings’ Christina Blumer – photo credit should be attributed to Capture Imaging. All other photos are courtesy

Brave Beginnings.


NICU Nurse Essential Resources

March of Dimes! Resources for parents & providers

Tori Meskin BSN RNC-NIC. Nurse. Blogger. Podcaster. Tori has been a clinician since 2012, works in acute care/inpatient NICU & Pediatric settings in southern California. She is a blogger, podcaster, NICU & Pediatric Critical Care RN, Sponsored Capella University MSN student, a Barco Uniforms Ambassado & Brave beginnings Ambassador. She has obtained her National NICU Nurse Certification (RNC-NIC) & has previously worked as a travel nurse, pursuing bedside experiences in several NICU settings. Follow her as she shares her NICU journey married life & juggles work, school, content creation, & brings you top notch Tips & Tricks along the way. Find her at or

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