OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On April 18, 2005, Jackson Schnieder was born at 23 weeks, weighing only one pound, one ounce.
He gave back to the March of Dimes and the NICU at CHI Health CUMC-Bergan Mercy on Tuesday where he spent 109 days as a baby.
The 16-year-old spent hours building an oak reading bench as his Eagle Scout project, which now sits in the NICU's family gathering area.
"We’ve got charging ports at the bottom, then coloring books, crayons, puzzles and books," said Jackson. “It really gives their kids and that a way to occupy themselves and that way they’re not just sitting in a room with nothing to do.”
“I always think about all of the families that have more than one child and how hard it is to divide their time with the kids at home and the ones that are in the NICU, and that’s where this project kind of arised from,” said Heidi Schnieder, Jackson's mom.
Jackson’s parents said going home without their baby was one of the scariest times of their lives.
"The first several days we didn’t know if we’d be celebrating his first birthday, let alone his 16th birthday and his Eagle Scout project,” said Brian Schnieder, Jackson's dad.
"He kept me on my toes the whole time," said Tara Boyer, one of Jackson's nurses who cared for him in the NICU.
Boyer has stayed in contact with the Schnieder family, watching Jackson grow into the person he is today.
"It’s nice that he thought of this NICU and the March of Dimes to give back to. It’s just great to see how awesome he’s doing,” said Boyer.
“Without them, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even be here today,” said Jackson.
Jackson said he spent about one hundred hours working on the reading bench.
He originally had a different Eagle Scout project in the works but decided to honor the place that helped save his life instead.
Visit the March of Dimes website for more information on the organization which works to better the health of mothers and babies.