Rachel and Andy Lee are the co-founders of Madelyn’s Fund. They met just after Andy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh while Rachel was a student at Clemson University. The couple married in 2007 and split their time between Greenville, SC and San Jose, CA while Andy played football for the San Francisco 49ers for 11 seasons. In the spring of 2015, he was traded and played one season each with the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers. He is currently playing for the Arizona Cardinals. They permanently settled in Charlotte in 2013 with their two boys Ryan (8) and Adam (6). Rachel enjoys shopping and dining at local spots in Charlotte, Bible study, and supporting and attending other philanthropic events. During the off season you can find Andy on the golf course at Charlotte Country Club or cheering on his boys at their sporting events. Both enjoy volunteering at Charlotte Country Day School where their boys attend and are members at Forest Hill Church.
Madelyn, their daughter who was born in 2015, spent 8 days in the NICU before she passed away after complications with an infection. “We created Madelyn’s Fund to honor our daughter’s memory by assisting families in similar situations. If we had not experienced a NICU stay or the loss of our daughter, we would not have known the struggles so many families face. By taking away some of that burden we are supporting families in crisis and blessing them with the ability to focus on their child. Being able to pay for the cost of funeral related expenses is something especially meaningful to us. We never knew how expensive funerals could be since we never considered having to bury a child. No one does. To be able to help a family properly memorialize their child who could otherwise not afford it is a gift we are honored to be able provide through Madelyn’s Fund.
Beyond that, we are a lifeline to families who experience a NICU stay and are able to help so quickly during extremely stressful times. We are so thankful to everyone who has supported us through our loss and now through Madelyn’s Fund.”
Dr. Stephen Chow is a physician and the Director of Hospital Medicine at Atrium Health Pineville. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and then attended Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school.
While he has no children, he’s the proud “dog dad” to Whiskey, Falkor and Colton. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, he frequently did CrossFit workouts, but now he enjoys riding his Peloton bike and golfing. He also loves traveling for food.
While Dr. Chow has no personal experience in the NICU, he joined the Board after attending the Pink Bow Gala for several years and loved the mission of Madelyn’s Fund. He said he “hopes to find new people around the Charlotte area both in and out of healthcare who would be interested in contributing to Madelyn’s Fund.” He believes the most important way Madelyn’s Fund supports our community is by “helping people at their most vulnerable [moments] and assisting in expenses that no one would ever consider. I think that’s special.”
Originally from Stamford, CT Brian has lived in Charlotte 24 years and is a litigation partner at the law firm of McGuireWoods, LLP. He specializes in complex business disputes and financial services litigation. He has a broad commercial litigation practice that includes a wide variety of industries such as banking, mortgage, telecommunications, energy, construction, and products liability.
Brian received his undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and his juris doctorate from UVA Law School.
Brian is married to his wife, Raizel, and they have four boys: Zachary, Cooper and Charlie (11 year-old triplets), and Michael, (8 years old). After a one month stay at the Presbyterian Hospital, the triplets were born at 24 weeks, 0 days. They weighed 1 lb and 6 oz each. Zachary and Charlie were in the Presbyterian Hemby NICU for 100 days and Cooper stayed for 6 months. They are now happy and healthy fifth graders at Providence Day School.
In his spare time, Brian writes and co-produces the Charlotte Squawks, an annual musical parody show that makes fun of pop-culture, sports, life and politics – both local and national. Charlotte Squawks runs for the month of June in Booth Theater and will be in its 15th year in 2019.
Brian’s experience with his triplets in the NICU has made him passionate about helping preemies and their families. He and his family also volunteer their time helping out at NICUs.
On his role as a Board member Brian says, “Madelyn’s Fund provides vital support for families going through what is often the most stressful times of their lives. By helping with other financial burdens, Madelyn’s Fund allows families to spend time focusing on their preemies.”
Originally from Jackson Michigan, Kaitlyn has resided in the Lake Norman Area for almost 30 years. A graduate of Garner Webb University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Kaitlyn pursued her passion for nursing while working as a Nursing Assistant in the NICU at Novant Health’s Hemby Children’s Hospital. She attended Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in Concord, graduating with an Associate of Science in Nursing in 2017. In 2018, Kaitlyn worked as a Registered Nurse in the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital and in 2021, assumed the role of Clinical Supervisor. She is currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Science Nursing Program at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences and is scheduled to graduate this fall.
In her spare time, Kaitlyn enjoys reading, volunteering within the local Down syndrome community, and working on home improvement projects with her partner Zach. During the warmer months, Kaitlyn and Zach like spending time outside with their 150-pound Newfoundland named Barkley and on the lake.
Kaitlyn was first introduced to Madelyn’s Fund while working as a Nursing Assistant in the NICU at Hemby Children’s Hospital. As a primary nurse, her interaction with patients and families provided her with an intimate knowledge of services provided by the Fund. She experienced firsthand how gas cards, meal cards, assistance with utility bills and in the saddest of circumstances, covering funeral costs, was of immense help during a most stressful time for families. “The stress of a NICU stay is indescribable and something no one can truly understand until they experience it themselves.” By alleviating “some of the housing, transportation, and/or other costs, Madelyn’s Fund helps provide for the simple things that families should not have to worry about during a hospital stay and allows families to truly focus on their baby.” Kaitlyn knew that if given the opportunity, she wanted to find a way to be involved in the incredible work Madelyn’s Fund does for NICU families.
On her new role as the Medical Community Liaison, she hopes to foster connections between the local hospital systems and Madelyn’s Fund to ensure that the Fund can meet the needs of the patients and families to the best of its ability. She aspires to provide insight into the unique intricacies of the NICU world and see to it that all NICU families have an advocate both inside and outside the walls of the NICU.
Bethany currently works at UserTesting as a Regional Sales Director. She is a graduate of DePaul University in Chicago where she studied Marketing with a concentration in Sales. After graduating college, she worked for 15 years as a National Sales Executive for Careerbuilder.com selling advertising and human capital software. Bethany has also worked for Zoom Video Communications, selling video collaboration software for 2 years.
Originally born and raised in Iowa, Bethany moved from Chicago to Charlotte in 2006 with her husband Andy. They share five children: Scarlett (11), Piper (8), Teddi (7), and twins Eliza and Oliver (4) and are active members at Myers Park Presbyterian Church. In her spare time, Bethany enjoys playing tennis, Barre training, and volunteers as a Sunday school teacher at her church.
Bethany first learned of Madelyn’s Fund while attending the Pink Bow Gala when she was 22 weeks pregnant with her twins. Knowing her pregnancy was higher risk and there was a greater chance her babies may need to spend time in the NICU, she was very sensitive to the information and stories that were shared during the event. She was moved by the help Madelyn’s Fund provided to families in need and was especially inspired by the Lee family in how they created such light through Madelyn’s Fund during their greatest moment of darkness.
Bethany’s goal as Board Member is to bring awareness to the everyday hardships a NICU stay can have on an entire family. Through sponsors and donations, she believes the Fund can make a real difference in lessening the burden of these challenges and let families focus on their child(ren) while they are in the NICU.
Originally from Herkimer New York, Abby attended the United States Military Academy where she earned her commission in the US Army. After serving as an officer in the Army, she was employed by Target Corporation for 17 years, ultimately obtaining the position of Group Vice President. Abby is also a former Board Member of the Second Harvest Foodbank of Metrolina. She has resided in Charlotte for 7 years and shares 1-year-old son Jonny with her husband Zach. Abby and her husband enjoy traveling to the mountains, hiking, spending time with extended family, and their goldendoodle, Lily.
In October of 2019, Abby and Zach were introduced to Madelyn’s Fund when their daughter Zoey, who was born at 32 weeks, passed away after a 14-day NICU hospitalization. Madelyn’s Fund offered support and covered Zoey’s funeral expenses. Inspired by this gesture, Abby was motivated to serve similar families in need, both during and after their NICU stay.
As a Board Member, Abby’s objective is to fully support the mission, vision and goals of Madelyn’s Fund by leveraging her many years of team leadership and experience as a NICU parent while collaborating with other Board members, social workers, and families associated with the Fund. Abby feels the most important way Madelyn’s Fund supports the community in addition to the financial assistance it provides, is the empathy shown for NICU families who experience infant loss.
Alston has lived in Charlotte for over eight years with his wife Jessie, with whom he shares three young children. Their oldest daughter, Haynes, was born at 33 weeks and spent nearly 6 weeks in the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital in 2017. Alston and Jessie’s experience in the NICU inspired them to get involved with Madelyn’s Fund and gave them the opportunity to help other families who might not have had the same support they did when navigating the NICU experience. Alston hopes his experience in corporate development and strategy will shape the vision and goals of Madelyn’s Fund so it can provide long-standing support to the NICU community in Charlotte and beyond.
When asked what he feels is the most important way Madelyn’s Fund supports our community, Alston says “being able to be close to your child when they are their most vulnerable is critical for the mental health of NICU parents and family. I believe enabling family to be more present during their child’s NICU stay has the ability to decrease the length of time of that stay” and the impact that presence has on the family will last far longer than the hospital stay itself.”
Elizabeth is currently a managing director in Wells Fargo’s Corporate and Investment Bank. Originally from Richmond, VA, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Commerce. She moved to Charlotte in 2018 after spending 11 years in New York City working in finance at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Elizabeth and her husband Zach have 3-year-old twin daughters, Henley and Charlotte, who were born four weeks early. Charlotte spent 8 days in the NICU in New York. Their baby Grace was born in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020.
Outside of work, Elizabeth and Zach enjoy traveling and spending time with their family. They are active members of Christ Episcopal Church, where their twins also attend preschool.
When asked why Elizabeth joined the Board, she said: “Even with our brief NICU stay with Charlotte, it was a challenging time for our family, and we experienced first-hand the emotional difficulty that goes along with it. I am passionate about devoting my time to help ease the burden for other families facing NICU stays that may not be as fortunate as ours.”
Jessie grew up in Charlotte before attending the University of Georgia where she graduated with a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication. After college, Jessie moved to Atlanta for three years where she worked for Ogilvy Public Relations, an international public relations firm, and served a variety of Fortune 500 consumer clients. She moved to New York in 2010 where she continued her career in public relations before making the move back to Charlotte to be closer to family. Jessie is currently a senior vice president with Taylor Global, a sports and entertainment public relations and marketing firm, where she has worked for almost nine years.
Jessie and her husband Alston have three children. Their now three-year-old daughter Haynes was born at 33 weeks and spent nearly six weeks in the Levine Children’s Hospital NICU. Haynes is now a proud big sister to her two-year-old brother Hill and baby sister Jane Adair, born December 2020.
Jessie’s experience in the NICU inspired her to get involved with Madelyn’s Fund to help other families who might not have had the same support she had when navigating the NICU experience. Jessie hopes her personal connection to the cause along with her background in marketing and public relations will help raise awareness of Madelyn’s Fund and further its important mission.
Sara has been a registered nurse in the NICU of Novant Health’s Presbyterian Medical Center for 20 years. She attended Appalachian State University and then graduated with a B.S.N. from Gardner-Webb University.
Sara and her husband John have two daughters, Georgia Grace (10) and Stella (8), who attend Charlotte Country Day School. Sara currently works in the health room at Country Day as needed to make sure the school is safe and remains open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sara is involved in the Charlotte community in several ways. She is an active member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church and is currently serving her third year as a Deacon. She is also the Marketing and Social Media Chair of the Presbyterian Women’s Council. She also serves on the Friends of the Arts board at Country Day, chairing Lower School Drama. Sara previously served on the Bee Mighty board, including co-chairing the Sponsorship committee and serving as the Gala Chair in 2019.
When asked about joining the Board, she said: “I absolutely love my job, and supporting babies and their families through Madelyn’s Fund is an amazing extension of that.”
Ryan is Founder of the Plancentric Group with Northwestern Mutual and is an active member of the Charlotte community. He is a member of Carmel Baptist Church, Charlotte Leadership Forum and Unpackin’ It Ministries, and he is an avid UNC Tarheel basketball and football fan. In his spare time, you can find him enjoying a round of golf, cheering on the Carolina Panthers, and spending time with his wife Alicia and their three children Savannah, Caroline and Drew.
Ryan joined the Madelyn’s Fund Board to help deliver and expand the Fund’s support to families in need and to help grow the reach by introducing new potential supporters.
Ryan says, “Madelyn’s Fund helps provide support during families’ ultimate time of need. I feel that means different things to each family, and Madelyn’s Fund has the flexibility and expertise to help in each situation. I feel blessed to have three healthy kids and the ability to connect others to support such a great cause.”
Sarah Turza joined Madelyn’s Fund in the fall of 2018 as the Program Manager. She grew up in the Charlotte area and graduated from Charlotte Catholic High School prior to completing her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte in Psychology and Early Childhood and Family Development. There she earned her Birth – Kindergarten licensure along with her North Carolina Infant-Toddler Specialist credential. Over the past 14 years she has served as an Early Intervention Child and Family Specialist for the Piedmont region of North Carolina, worked as a Family and Developmental Specialist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at Levine Children’s Hospital, and as a NICU case manager and Developmental Specialist for Mecklenburg County Children’s Services Agency. All of these roles afforded her the opportunity to work closely with families who have children with special medical needs, many of whom experienced lengthy NICU hospitalizations.
Prior to giving her time to Madelyn’s Fund, she served 4 years on the Board of the Charlotte chapter of the Family Support Network, serving as Board Chair for her final term. Efforts were focused on providing parent and sibling support for families who have a child with special medical and developmental needs. The biggest priority focused on linking families who have shared experiences and wish to provide emotional support and guidance to families that are earlier in their journey of learning about a particular medical/developmental diagnosis their child has received, how this might impact their child’s trajectory as well as helping them navigate what resources might be available in the community.
Working with the NICU population has always been a strong passion of Sarah’s, whether it is helping families learn to navigate a NICU stay, providing emotional support during the up’s and down’s many families experience in the NICU, or working with families after the transition home and beyond.
On her role with Madelyn’s Fund she says, “This gives me the opportunity to share all of what I have learned from my families and use their experiences to highlight where the greatest areas of need are in our community, and as a fund, how we might be able to fill those voids. Madelyn’s Fund is a unique community resource which strives to alleviate some of the financial stressors that can accompany a NICU hospitalization as well as increase community awareness of the toll an extended hospitalization can have on a family unit. Many families miss time away from work to be present and involved in their child’s medical care which can interfere with their ability to maintain basic household needs such as utilities, etc. and leads to additional expenses such as the cost of traveling up to 2-hours one way to be with their child. As part of the Madelyn’s Fund team, my goal is to continue building and strengthening our working relationships with local NICU Social Workers who are key in identifying families in need of financial support; whether it pertains to maintaining their household during a hospital stay or having the necessary means to be able to honor and celebrate their child’s life in the event they are unable to join their family at home.”
Outside of Madelyn’s Fund Sarah says, “I’m fortunate to have my mother and sister close and am enjoying being a first-time aunt to my little niece!”