By Dave Lomonico
A little more than a year ago, Joe Bernstein and his wife, Deirdre, local veterinarians in Baldwin, Md., were spending the majority of their time running back and forth between work and the neonatal intensive care unit at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Deirdre had just given birth to twins, Eli and Joseph, who were two months premature and weighed 4 pounds each. They were placed on ventilation, and for the next month, the Bernsteins had to deliver breast milk to the hospital and feed the boys until they were strong enough to leave the hospital.
"As a new parent, you're nervous to begin with, and when you have preemies, you're a wreck," said Joe Bernstein, who also has a 3.5-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. "But the staff at GMBC was so caring, and the doctors … they were all wonderful. It was quite an experience. We have had three children born there, and every time it's been an amazing experience at GBMC."
GBMC's pediatric department serves more than 20,000 youths throughout the Baltimore area, and it can help families like the Bernsteins in part because of the proceeds the GBMC Foundation generates. Throughout the year, the foundation holds various fundraisers, and on Sept. 28, Shawan Downs in Cockeysville will host the 13th-annual The Legacy Chase, with all proceeds directed toward GBMC's pediatric department.
The event will include steeplechase racing, live music, food and wine tastings, as well as plenty of family-fun activities, including the G. Leslie Grimes Stick Pony Race for youngsters. Gates open at 10 a.m. Sept. 28, and tickets range from $35 for a standard pass to $1,000 for a luxury box.
"We've been four times, and we go pretty much every year," Joe Bernstein said. "There's different ways of experiencing it -- my daughter will be doing the Stick Pony Race for the first time this year -- and we just always enjoy it. It's really a fun day out."
Kristen Seabolt, an account executive at Maroon PR, said she expected around 7,000 people to attend. She said the profits would go specifically to the Gilchrist Kids part of the GBMC pediatric department, which is for children in hospice care who may not have much longer to live.
The Bernstein twins ended up being healthy, but their father said he empathized with those families who might not be as fortunate. Joe Bernstein said he and Deirdre were GBMC pediatric department boosters even before their twins were born, mainly because they thought so highly of the hospital and its mission.
Not only do the Bernsteins participate in The Legacy Chase every year, but they're also part of the Father's Day 5K and various other fundraiser events. In fact, they are involved in GMBC's Parents Advisory Council, composed of young couples whose children have been born there who put funds together and present a grant to the hospital's pediatric research or care divisions.
"We were involved [at the hospital] after our first child was born, and we're even more involved now," Joe Bernstein said. "It was pretty funny, when the twins were born, one of the boys was in a new incubator, and on the side of it, it said, 'Purchased by the Father's Day 5K race.' So it was one of those good-karma things where we got to [benefit] from something our own charity does and supports."
Expect the Bernsteins' efforts to continue for years to come. They'll be out at Shawan Downs Sept. 28, as much for the fun activities as the chance to say thank you to a place they care deeply about.
"I never thought I'd feel that way about my local hospital, but I do really feel that way about GBMC," Bernstein said. "It's been nothing but good from beginning to end with regard to our children."
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• The Legacy Chase To Benefit GBMC Pediatric Patients
• Home Team Snacks Makes Food For Fans Of Baltimore Sports
• Baltimore Running Festival Popular With Marathoners
• Sports Participation Valuable To Students At St. Elizabeth School
Issue 189: September 2013