A charitable organization that grew out of two families’ devastating losses is supporting Rutgers research to help save future newborns.
In 2011, a year after losing Stella Faith, their preterm newborn, Canaan and Sarah Himmelbaum were back in the neonatal intensive care unit to welcome their son, Aiden. A nurse recognized Canaan and asked him to reach out to her friend Adam Yoskowitz, who was coping with his own recent newborn loss.
The men quickly bonded and resolved to start a support group for fathers experiencing infant loss. The vehicle was a foundation that Adam and his wife, Melissa, had started and named for Hudson Shea, the son whom they lost shortly after his birth.
The support group grew, and so did the Hudson Shea Foundation. Canaan became director of the board. In 2015, the foundation held its inaugural Angel Walk to remember beloved babies and raise funds for medical research. At that point, says Adam, “It wasn’t just about the support group, but something bigger.”
The following year, the men met with Arnold B. Rabson, a physician who is also the director of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Adam and Canaan believed the institute’s expert perinatal and neonatal research—combined with the superior patient care at the medical school’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences—provided a perfect partnership. In July 2016, the Hudson Shea Foundation committed $100,000 to create the Hudson Shea & Stella Faith Research Fund, which will provide annual support to a Rutgers researcher investigating causes of preterm labor, neonatal disorders, stillbirth, and perinatal loss.
Rabson and many of his colleagues and students, along with their families, were among the nearly 300 participants at the second Angel Walk last September. Parents held balloons bearing their lost babies’ names, and after a walk around Van Saun County Park in Paramus, New Jersey, they released them, watching their angels take flight.
The Yoskowitzes and Himmelbaums, who now have four healthy children between them, say the partnership has given them hope.
“I can’t say enough about how Adam and I feel about Dr. Rabson and his team, and knowing that there are people who care this much,” says Canaan. “This partnership doesn’t have an end; this is just the beginning.” •