Help in store for kids just like Sophie
Just a few years ago little Sophie Bold was struggling to survive. Every breath she took was a precious moment.
She was born 14 weeks early and weighed little more than a pack of butter.
The Pakuranga youngster spent the first few months of her life in a special warming cot at Middlemore's Kidz First Children's Hospital.
And every step of the way her doctor Lindsay Mildenhall was there beside her, doing everything he could to keep her alive.
Sophie has cerebral palsy as a result of brain damage she suffered from being born so early. She loves cake and going to the beach just like any other toddler.
Dr Mildenhall, clinical leader at Middlemore's newborn unit, was thrilled to meet again, as a toddler, the baby he cared for.
The occasion was the Countdown Kids Hospital appeal presentation at Manukau's Countdown.
"It's a rare opportunity to see the children out of hospital. It makes it all worth while," he says.
The appeal, now in its seventh year, closed with a record-setting $1.22 million raised by Countdown customers and staff.
Kidz First has received $235,803 from the appeal, which will be used to buy three ventilators to help premature babies, just like Sophie, breathe through their fragile lungs.
The ventilator limits each breath to the size of the baby's lungs and reduces complications.
"We have two little ones with us at the moment, one 480 grams and the other 530 grams, and they are the types of children we will be able to help because of this," Dr Mildenhall says.
Progressive Enterprises managing director Dave Chambers says people held trivia nights, football matches and shaved their heads to help raise funds.
Countdown suppliers Unilever presented a $77,000 cheque to the appeal. A donation was made towards the appeal every time a shopper purchased one of its products.
Nationwide, the Countdown appeal will be funding 280 pieces of equipment to help children in 12 hospitals.