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Volunteers help NICU families have Thanksgiving together under one roof

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Thanksgiving is all about being home for the holidays and spending time with family, but what if part of your family is stuck in a hospital? A group at Overland Park Regional Medical Center hurried to the kitchen to fix that problem.

"He smiles now. He's starting to smile," said Jared Johnson, who couldn't help but smile too, while showing off pictures of his baby boy Emmet Noah.

Emmet was born in September. Not only was he eight weeks premature, but when he was born, Jared and his wife found out Emmet has Down Syndrome.

Emmet is now in the NICU and Johnson thought for sure his family would be apart this Thanksgiving but when he and his family walked into the hospital's cafeteria he saw his own Thanksgiving miracle.

"It feels like everybody in our family is here together," Johnson said.

It was all there. The pies, brownies, green bean casserole, mac and cheese, roles and of course turkey, all cooked by families who know exactly what the Johnsons are facing.

"We remember what they went through because we went through it," Bob Stumpff said.

Stumpff's now four-year-old was in the NICU for three months.

Ever since, he's been helping to cook for NICU families so they can be under the same roof for holiday meals.

"It's kind of a unique kinship...in that we all have babies or have had babies there. Maybe a time to reflect on the blessings and the positives of all of our babies being here," Johnson said.

Their tummies are full but thanks to this meal, their hearts are too.

"At Thanksgiving, we're all grateful for certain things in our life. We're grateful to have Emmett," he said.

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