JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Brittany Hutto’s newborn son spent 115 days in the NICU.
“It took a little bit to kind of realize, like, this is not normal I, I’m mourning the loss of the normalcy,” said Hutto, this month’s Positively JAX winner.
Mark was delivered more than three months early and the odds were stacked against him.
“There were a lot of times even in the NICU, we were told he would never walk, he would never talk, he would never do anything for himself,” Hutto said.
Now at 4 years old, he showed them he can do almost anything.
“He is jumping, he is climbing. He has a little tractor that he drives around in the backyard all the time with our dog,” Hutto said.
Mark has cerebral palsy, but he’s a healthy active little boy. As Hutto watches her big boy thrive, she never forgets the challenging days in the hospital and the friends she met in the NICU.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to step away from my position from work, and I didn’t have to return immediately. There were families and friends that I had made in the NICU, who were not so fortunate,” Hutto said.
That planted the seed for Mark’s Mission, an organization Hutto founded that promotes bonding in NICUs by providing resources and financial support to families in need.
Hutto used her own journey to fill a need in the community, earning her this month’s Positively JAX award.
So far, it’s served more than 500 families, received more than $10,000 in donations and more than 2,300 items have been donated.
One of the most popular items is the NICU care packages. It’s a box filled with items that a family and newborn need for comfort. All these items are donated and Hutto believes they create some of that normalcy that was stolen from her family.
“The numbers are there on paper and you can see it, but to hear how you made an impact for people that I had no idea. I had no idea that what I was doing, that what we were doing has meant so much to people,” Hutto said.
There’s also a food and fuel program, sibling support kits and a NICU support group. These are all things Mark’s life inspired, so at 4 years old, he’s already making a Positively JAX difference.
“Hopefully someday this is something that he wants to partake in,” Hutto said. “Hopefully he understands why this was started and it all began with him.”
For more information go to https://www.marksmission.org/.