Little Grayson Dowling came into the world weighing just 19 ounces and a poor prognosis for survival.
However, his mother Miranda Mezzatesta was not about to give up on her little boy knowing in her heart if she could just be with him during this critical time in his life it could make all the difference.
Without the financial resources the family, living in Princeton at the time, could not afford for her to be in Vancouver for an extended stay.
It was then the Cops for Kids program intervened and paid her accommodation costs at Ronald McDonald House while Grayson was in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
“They (Cops for Kids) will never know how much that means to my family and to me. I fully believe that me being able to stay at Grayson’s side was one of the main reasons he is here today,” said Mezzatesta. “They helped me save my child’s life.
“I like to think that me being there let him know that there was something worth staying for, worth fighting for. I could never say or do anything that would be adequate enough to thank the Cops for Kids ever, it really means the world to me.”
Over the years Cops for Kids has helped many children in medical or traumatic crisis and continues to so throughout the region.
Grayson, who is now 18 months old and still requires medical equipment to help breath, was born at 27 weeks but due to another problem was less developed than he should have been for his age.
Doctors warned Mezzatesta throughout the pregnancy the child might not survive which only added to the stress the family was experiencing.
“It’s devastating, it’s heart wrenching. It’s the worst feeling in the world but when he came out, he came out crying and that was the best sign ever, it was a huge, huge relief to hear that tiny little kitten meow of a cry,” she said.
According to the mother, her son was the third or fourth smallest surviving child the hospital had ever seen.
The family has since moved to Summerland to be closer to a higher level of medical care for Grayson.
Mezzatesta and Grayson have also since had a chance to thank the Cops program in person during a recent fundraiser.
“They saw Grayson there and they saw how big he was and all the machines and stuff that he is hooked up to and needs,” she said. “Most people look at the machines and that’s all they see but these people looked past all that and saw the child behind it all.
“I told them about a bit of his journey and how small he was and everything he had to fight through to be where he is today, they were in shock.”
If possible the family will be greeting the Cops for Kids cyclists when they come to the Summerland RCMP detachment at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11 as part of their annual 10-day fundraising ride throughout southeastern B.C.
They will also be stopping at the Wine Country Info Centre in Penticton at 3:30 p.m. on the same day.
“There is just no way to put a value and what they have done for us, it is truly priceless and they deserve all the support we can give them,” said Mezzatesta.