NICU Preemie Graduates' 31st Annual Reunion at Packard Children’s

More than 500 families and staff celebrate and give thanks at NICU ‘Grad Party’

For Release: September 12, 2013

STANFORD, Calif. - Nurse Roberta Harryman - co-chair and Grad Party guru - along with nurse Barbara Boyington, has been taking care of NICU preemies for more than 30 years. She said Sunday's party holds a special spot in her heart. “It’s so rewarding for me to come to this party every fall and see so many of the children I cared for, who have now grown up and are bringing such joy to their parents and to the world,” Harryman said. "It's really an extraordinary day.”

With the days counting down to Sunday’s NICU event, the guest list is growing. Some years the Grad Party is global, and this year, families are expected from throughout the U.S. western region. There's plenty of entertainment lined up for this weekend, including a magician, a comedian, Violet the Clown, fingernail painting, a petting zoo, pet therapy courtesy of Semper the dog -- and of course, plenty of yummy treats.  

"But it's not just an afternoon of fun," Harryman said. "It's really an afternoon of thanks for both the staff and families. You see families from all walks of life bond with one another." And it won't be just babies, children and teens. Some of the grads are now adults with their own babies.

"It's a reunion that means so much to everyone," said William Benitz, MD, chief of neonatology and leader of a neonatology team ranked in America’s Top 10 for providing world-class care for approximately 1200 of the more than 4500 babies born at Packard Children's each year.

"The emotional rollercoaster these families endured in the first days and weeks of their child's life can be overwhelming,” added Benitz, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the Stanford School of Medicine. “But being with others who have been through the same experience creates a bond that will connect them forever."


Winter Johnson

Robert Dicks

About Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. Along with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine, we are part of Stanford Medicine, an ecosystem harnessing the potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education, and clinical care to improve health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at