SIMPLYkc Magazine February 2016

Page 12


BY TINA KLUGMAN Photos / A J S Photography

Olivia Dickerson, at left, and Ava Dickerson, top right, were the inspiration for the nonprofit Little Warrior Princesses. At bottom right, Brandon and Cassandra Dickerson pose with their twin girls.

LITTLE WARRIOR PRINCESSES: HELPING NICU FAMILIES IN NEED One out of eight babies in the U.S. is born prematurely. Being the parent of a baby (or babies) in the neonatal intensive care unit at a hospital is an extremely emotional journey. Local mom Cassandra Dickerson knows that journey all too well. Her personal experience with her own infants in the NICU inspired her to start Little Warrior Princesses, a nonprofit organization that provides support to families with infants in NICUs throughout the metro area by providing gas and food gift cards to them during their hospital stay. Dickerson and her husband Brandon struggled with infertility for four years due to a medical condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). When Dickerson became pregnant with twins, she and Brandon were excited. Although her pregnancy was high-risk



(as are all twin pregnancies), Dickerson felt confident she would carry her babies full-term. The last thing she expected was to go into preterm labor at 26 weeks. “The doctors always said everything looked great and there was no cause for concern,” Dickerson says. “So, when I went into preterm labor, we were obviously very shocked and scared.” Ava and Olivia Dickerson were born in 2012, weighing 15.5 ounces and 18 ounces, respectively. The baby girls spent four months in the NICU at St. Luke’s Hospital. The twins are now healthy and happy, but the experience impacted Dickerson profoundly. During that experience, Dickerson built relationships with some of the other NICU parents who shared stories with her about their