Mother helps other moms of preemies in honor of 'Frank the Fight - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Mother helps other moms of preemies in honor of 'Frank the Fighter'

(KFVS) - He'll forever be know as Frank the Fighter: A baby born too soon, but with a legacy that will live on through his mother's love.

Rachel and Trae Bertrand said Frank more than fought for his life during 15 hard days in the hospital. He passed away in October. 

To his equally tough mother, Rachel, those are days she'll cherish forever. Now she's determined to make sure Frank is never forgotten through a program of love. She's working to raise money and generate support for other mothers who find themselves caring for NICU babies. 

"It's a time that can be tough, but so many people reached out after he was born," said Rachel. 

Frank was born on Oct. 13, 2014. He weighed just 4 pounds.  

"We had spent many days back and forth between the St. Louis hospital and eventually they told us it was time to have an emergency C-section," Rachel explained. 

In the summer before Frank was born, the family learned Frank had a heart defect. During a check up in June, he was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and closely monitored by a team of specialists. 

Periodically he also suffered from an extremely low heart rate. 

After the birth, difficult days followed as Rachel stayed in St. Louis and the family traveled back in forth. Rachel had also been in the hospital as doctors monitored her condition before the birth. 

"It was weird, I was in there so long. When I went in everything was still green, and I came out and the leaves were falling. All of it was just a lot to take in," said Rachel. 

Meanwhile, Frank's care was her main focus. Her family started the Frank the Fighter page on Facebook. 

"I was so overwhelmed by how much people reached out and cared," said Rachel. 

"She was so strong through the whole thing," said Trae. 

Inside the hospital, the family could only connect with Frank through glass in the NICU as he was connected to monitors and tubes. After eight days, Rachel was allowed to hold him.

"I would just sing to him, his eyes were so big, he was precious," said Rachel. 

Rachel said through it all her faith and the support of so many people on Frank the Fighter's Facebook page and those who came to visit with cards, food or kind words got her through. 

"People cared," said Rachel. 

After 15 days Frank the Fighter passed away on Oct. 29. 

"I remember that last day I held him," she said. "I heard stories from other moms that didn't have their babies that long. He could have been stillborn. Those days are so precious." 

Rachel and Trae said it was important to them to make sure Frank's spirit, life, and legacy are carried on. 

"We have to pay it forward," said Rachel. 

So she's started a program to collect donations and gifts for other mothers caring for premature babies in NICU units. 

Through the Frank the Fighter page, she's collecting donations, sending cards and baskets, sharing stories, and doing all she can to let other mother's know they are not alone.

"Just to know someone cares makes such a difference," said Rachel. 

On May 16, the First annual Frank the Fighter step challenge will take place.

Meet at the Courthouse steps in downtown Cape Girardeau for a 15 minute step challenge. You'll have 15 minutes to do as many steps as you can. Why 15 minutes? Because that's how many days Frank fought for his life.

There will be a winner in each age bracket. Waves of 15 will start at 8:30 a.m., your wave time will be emailed to you. Registration will be online only, and will close after the first 90 have signed up. If you miss that deadline, please consider joining us for the fun run/walk.

Not wild about steps? Join them for the fun run/walk (non-competitive, run/walk as long as you like).

For either the step challenge or walk/run, fees are:

  • $20 “Feather Weight class” (without shirt)
  • $30 “Light Weight class” (includes shirt)
  • $40 “Heavy Weight class” (includes shirt and sweatband)
Prices effective until day of race. Add $10 for registration on race day (Registration for the step challenge must be completed online prior to race day and is open to the first 90 registrants).

Must be at least 10 years old on race day to participate.

Meanwhile donations can be mailed to 3244 Lakewood Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Please make checks payable to Frank the Fighter.

The Bertrand family wants to thank all their friends, loved-ones, and strangers for support and for always keeping them in their prayers. 

"Frank will always be the fourth child in our family and he will live on through Frank the Fighter," Trae said.

They are hoping to reach a goal of 10,000 likes on Facebook. 

For more information on how to support the Frank the Fighter Challenge, you can click here or go to the Frank the Fighter Facebook page.

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