Reece Carroll is a little miracle on the ice

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Reece Carroll was born 13 weeks earlier. He spent the next 71 days struggling and growing in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.

Today, he is all boy. Reece and his parents may be among the The ravages of Huntsvillethe biggest hockey fans. We recently caught up with them as Reece got dressed and laced up his skates to hit the ice at VBC Propst Arena.

Malynda Carroll, Reece’s mum, said: ‘It was definitely a 360’, then paused before adding: ‘Actually seven years ago I never would have thought I would be sitting here watching my little boy skate and play hockey by himself.”

Malynda and Clay Carroll were hooked the night they took their nephew to a game seven years ago. It happened to be Melissa George Night. It’s the night Havoc players wear special pink and blue jerseys that are auctioned off after the game to raise money for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund.

Clay wanted to get a shirt for his son who was in NICU that night. But he was unemployed, and it wasn’t in his budget that year, until a stranger bought one and gave it to him. “They did,” Clay said with a grateful smile, “James Poe was his name. I’ll never forget that.

This act of kindness changed their lives. “I mean, it’s a blessing,” Clay said, choking back tears. Malynda said: “The Melissa fund provided so many things that saved Reece’s life. I mean, at one pound, 14 ounces required a fan and all the equipment they have. If it wasn’t for Melissa’s fund, we wouldn’t have this and therefore Reece wouldn’t have had as much of a chance of surviving if it wasn’t for that.

The Carrolls buy a jersey every year now, knowing the money helps other families going through NICU. “Families before us helped us, so we want to help families after us,” Clay said.

And Reece? He follows the example of his cousin who became addicted to sports and started playing. “Reece of course had to follow, and he did nothing but want to learn to skate,” Malynda said, “and now we’re playing hockey at seven years old.”

He even got some ice time with the Havoc in a recent practice. Mom and Dad watched from the bleachers. “It’s finally starting to open up there,” Malynda said proudly.

When I asked Reece what it was like to be on the ice and skate with the players, he simply replied, “Um, that was cool. His favorite part was the shot on goal and he scored a few of them. And if you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, the answer is short and sweet, “Uh, play hockey,” he said.

Former Havoc keeper Max Milosek was also a preemie. He messaged Reece that the staff were playing on the large video board inside the Propst Arena. Reece didn’t take his eyes off the screen when Max said, “Like me, being a premature baby, it’s a huge accomplishment to come out of this and be successful in life. And I see you do. Max continued, “I know we are becoming great hockey players, and I know you will be too. So keep having fun and keep working hard and maybe in the future we can skate together.

The family is grateful for their blessings. Clay summed it up by saying, “If it weren’t for the Havoc and all the other stuff and the foundation and all the stuff that helps to come together and help out, there’s no telling where we’d be today. .”

Melissa George’s 16th Annual Party with the Huntsville Havoc will take place on Saturday evening, February 5and. The Carroll family will be there to do what they can to give back and hopefully bring home another jersey.

The puck drops for the game between the Havocs and the Birmingham Bulls at 7 p.m. The evening begins with a big gift. The first 500 fans who donate an item to the Neonatal ICU will win a Melissa George Night 2022 t-shirt. Items you can donate include newborn onesies, baby blankets, restaurant cards and gas .

Money from this year’s event will help purchase potentially life-saving NICU equipment. This includes an arctic sun cooling device, which can help prevent brain damage in infants after traumatic births and a phototherapy light reader to help ensure infants receive the appropriate amount of phototherapy light needed to reduce levels of jaundice.

Over the past 15 years, the Huntsville Havoc Organization raised over $700,000 for Melissa’s fund. To purchase tickets for the game, visit Huntsville Havoc Ticketing Site. And for more information on the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund, you can visit the Huntsville Hospital Foundation website.

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