For the progressive rock band Umphrey’s McGee, supporting the MUSC Children’s Hospital not only benefits a local charity on their tour stop but supports a place with a personal connection. Both the band manager and the bassist knew firsthand the importance of a state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital.
Manager Vince Iwinski’s daughter, Ivy, needed emergency care at birth. Little Ivy suffered meconium aspiration after a 36-hour delivery and experienced low oxygen in her blood. Her father rode with her from the delivery room straight to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the MUSC Children’s Hospital.
“I’ll never forget that moment,” Iwinski said. “It felt like I was watching a movie of myself from the back of the room.”
Day by day, Ivy became healthier and healthier, and eventually the Iwinskis went home. Ivy turns 4 years old in January and has no lasting effects from her early health problems.
“We had our unexpected stay at he the NICU and the firsthand experience of the miracle work that they do there,” her father said recently. “It really changed us, as people, in a very positive way. It let all the heavy things fall away and really made us focus on what was important. And that was getting Ivy healthy and home.“
When Umphrey’s McGee bassist Ryan Stasik faced a similar complication with his daughter’s birth the following year, the Iwinskis offered comfort and advice. Vince and Ryan are not only business partners but best friends dating back to their time in college together at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. By coincidence, they moved to Charleston within six months of each other.
“Ryan and (his wife) Mary Welch have been our best friends for a long time,” Iwinski said. “We jumped at the chance to help them through a tough situation, as we had just gone through it ourselves.”
Stasik’s daughter, Amelia, was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, not breathing. Stasik found himself on the same ride as his friend, in an ambulance bound for the NICU. Amelia needed a brain monitor and a hypothermic suit to cool her core temperature and to stop seizures. But every day she grew stronger.
She was born with a health assessment score of 0, according to Stasik. “But if you met her today, you’d never know,” he said.
Amelia is a healthy 3-year-old girl. She and Ivy are best friends and attend Sundrops Montessori together.
“We had no idea what was happening over at MUSC and the NICU until we experienced it ourselves,” Stasik said. “We’re very grateful and wanted to give back to MUSC.”
The band donated $10,000 to the NICU following its recent Chucktown Ball, a two-day music festival and golf outing now in its second year.
“It was kind of a no-brainer for us, and we anticipate Chucktown Ball being an annual event,” Iwinski said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to help for years to come.”
Top photo credit Dave Vann