Runner in TCS NYC Marathon runs to give back to hospital that saved her daughter

"I gave birth to Andi and they brought her to life," said runner Amy Knepper. "There wasn't even a question they were my family."

A team of doctors and nurses cared for Knepper's daughter Andi round the clock for three months at Mount Sinai. Knepper was just seven months pregnant when she had Andi, who weighed just 2 pounds.

"She was attached to all these wires and she was so tiny and her head was the size of a walnut it was so small," she said.

Andi's new home became the neonatal intensive care unit at Kravis Children's Hospital on the Upper East Side.


Now Andi is a fearless 2-year-old, but Amy will never forget how frightening those first few weeks were. There are no private rooms here in the NICU so Knepper went home, leaving Andi behind.

"I couldn't hold her initially, couldn't smell her, couldn't hear her cry, I didn't bathe her," she said. "The NICU really parented her."

Wanting to give back to the hospital, the 38-year-old avid runner formed Team Andi to raise money for the hospital. The group of eight, including one of Andi's pediatricians, will take part in this year's TC NYC Marathon.

The NICU, which is being renovated, sits right on the race route at mile 23.

The team is trying to raise a quarter-million dollars for a private room here in the NICU where families can stay with their little ones

"All the interactions that the baby has with the mother and father and sibs seems to improve their outcome, shorten their lengths of stay, they feed better, they grow better," said Dr. Ian Holzman, of Kravis Children's Hospital.

Knepper wants others to experience something that she could not when Andi was hospitalized -- and ultimately have the marathon to thank for making it possible.

"I love it," she said. "I think it's one of the greatest days of the year in New York City."

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