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.”
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom to her two sons, Teddy and Emmett, Kelly was a Labor and Delivery Nurse. She received a BA in Communications from the University of Wisconsin and later completed her MS in Nursing at DePaul University in Chicago, where she and her family lived for the last 10 years.
As a labor and delivery nurse at Northwestern and most recently at Baby and Co. in Charlotte, Kelly saw firsthand how the physical and emotional stress that comes with any NICU stay impacts the health of the entire family. Upon learning about the important work being done by Madelyn’s Fund, she knew that this would be a great place to utilize her clinical experience and help some of our community’s most deserving families.
“In my experience, it is critical for NICU parents to be physically and emotionally available to their babies to support the best clinical outcomes. By taking some of the financial burden of having a child in the NICU off of their parent’s shoulders, Madelyn’s Fund directly impacts the health of these babies.”
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.”
Seantel graduated from North Carolina State University and shortly after married her college sweetheart, Ryan Londry, in 2005. She is a former pharmaceutical sales representative turned stay at home mom to her 5 year old twins Graham and Ellie, who attend Kindergarten at Charlotte Country Day School. Her twins spent 5 weeks in the NICU due to prematurity.
Seantel joined the Board to support her friends during a difficult time. Through her experience in the NICU she knows how much Madelyn’s Fund fills a desperate need for so many families.
“Madelyn’s Fund fills a financial need to families during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Madelyn’s Fund gives families hope, support and financial help during their NICU stay. So many of our Board members have had NICU experience and Madelyn’s Fund gives us a way to give back. So many people ask during these hard times how they can help, you can help by donating to Madelyn’s Fund!”
Thomas was born and raised in Douglasville, GA and graduated from Georgia State University. He also attended the University of Florida. Thomas has worked in Treasury at Ally Bank since 2016, previously spending 10 years at Bank of America. His family includes wife, Brittany, and their son Harrison & daughter Dylan.
Thomas was aware of the emotional stress of having a baby in the NICU and the extraordinary costs associated with NICU stays. After meeting Rachel and Andy, he really was inspired by their desire to help others and their commitment to the community.
“Madelyn’s Fund helps support the community by helping families with life expenses, which allows them to focus on their baby and by letting them know that they are not alone in their situation. I honestly feel honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve on this Board.”
Nicole grew up in Glen Dale, WV and attended college at the University of South Carolina where she majored in Finance and International Business with a minor in French. She moved to Charlotte in 2003 to work at Liberty Mutual. After a few years at Liberty Mutual she switched to banking and worked at Wachovia. She is married to her husband of 10 years, Kevin, and is currently a stay at home mom to their two children, Arden (8) and Ryan (6) who both attend Charlotte Latin.
Nicole joined the Board to support Andy and Rachel in furthering their mission to help families in the NICU and to honor their daughter, Madelyn. Her goals are to spread awareness of Madelyn’s Fund in the Charlotte community to better support and reach every family in need of assistance.
Katie grew up in Raleigh, NC, and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication. After college, she moved to Washington, DC, for two years and worked at Ketchum, an international public relations firm, and served a variety of consumer health and wellness clients. She moved to Charlotte in 2008 and worked at Queens University of Charlotte, overseeing marketing for their adult studies program. Most recently, Katie worked for Atrium Health (formerly Carolinas HealthCare System) for six years, where she served in a variety of corporate communications leadership roles.
Katie and her husband Anthony have three daughters. Their now five-year-old twins Mallory and Abigail were born at 31 weeks and spent nearly 6 weeks in the Levine Children’s Hospital NICU. Their youngest daughter, Lily, was born at 35 weeks in November 2018 and spent 2 weeks in the NICU.
Her family’s experience in the NICU inspired Katie to get involved with Madelyn’s Fund. Katie said she joined the Board because she’s passionate about helping others who share her experience as a NICU parent. She knows first-hand how emotionally, physically and financially difficult the NICU can be. Katie hopes her personal story, combined with her healthcare communications experience, will help raise awareness of Madelyn’s Fund and expand our mission to as many NICU families as possible.
Andrew Tucker, originally from Pageland, SC has lived in Charlotte for 14 years and is employed by CM Tucker Lumber Companies, LLC, a fourth generation family business. He attended Wake Forest University where he serves on the University Athletic Advisory Committee. He and his wife, Blair, have two daughters, Georgia (3) and Mary Charles (2) who attend Myers Park Presbyterian Weekday School. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his family and playing golf, as well as serving on the First Tee of Greater Charlotte Development Committee.
On his role as a Board member Andrew says, “My goal is simply to aid in any way possible to help Madelyn’s Fund. We have already seen considerable growth since my time on the board and I would like to help continue that trend. The families that approach Madelyn’s Fund are facing difficult times. If we are able to ease their worries in the slightest way then I feel like Madelyn’s Fund has accomplished its purpose. Having a child in the NICU can be both an emotionally and financially draining experience. To be able to help lighten the burden is the most rewarding thing we can accomplish.”
Founder of the Plancentric Group with Northwestern Mutual, Ryan Saunders is an active member of the Charlotte community. He is a member of Carmel Baptist Church, Charlotte Leadership Forum, Unpackin’ It Ministries, and 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 Madelyn’s Fund’s support to families in need and to 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!”