A group of kind-hearted police officers went above and beyond the call of duty when they provided an incredibly special kind of support to two fellow cops and their premature baby boy,.
Melissa Winch, 38, a police officer, and her husband, Adam, 45, a former cop, welcomed their son Axel on July 29, when he was just 29 weeks and weighed just 2lbs 12 oz.
After spending the first week of his life in the neonatal unit in Grand Junction, Colorado, where his parents live, Axel was transferred to the Children’s Hospital Colorado, located in Aurora, roughly 200 miles away, putting a huge distance between him and his parents’ home.
Premmie: Baby Axel Winch was born at 29 weeks on July 29, weighing just 2lbs 12oz, pictured here with parents, Melissa, 38 and Adam, 45
Intensive care: Baby Axel was born with multiple health problems that could have left him blind, deaf and with skeletal problems
24/7: Melissa, a police office, and Adam, a former police officer and personal security company owner, took time off work to be with their newborn son in hospital
On the move: Axel spent his first week in the neonatal unit in Grand Junction, Colorado, but was then transferred 200 miles away to the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora
So Melissa and Adam, who now works as a personal security company owner, made the move with him, uprooting their lives and leaving their support network behind.
And when a former Grand Junction police officer, now working in Aurora, saw the family’s social media updates about their situation, he shared the information with colleagues who decided to help.
Sargent Mike Pitrusu, head of the employee support and wellness unit, immediately offered his services to the family, and several officers quickly followed suit.
From the chief of police bringing banana nut bread to the hospital to others raising money to help the family pay their medical bills, the Winch family revealed to Today that the support the received from virtual strangers was overwhelming.
‘There was enough money for us to pay our bills for over a month,’ Adam said.
‘We know we have cops from Aurora showing up out of the blue … Just literally coming in there hugging us, telling us stories, cooing and hugging Axel.’
In Aurora, baby Axel underwent several surgeries to help his underdeveloped lungs and repair a bleed in his brand and there were many times the new parents thought their baby was going to die.
Changes: Adam and Melissa also made the move to Aurora with their baby son, uprooting their lives and leaving their support network behind
Helping hand: When a former Grand Junction police officer, now working in Aurora, saw the family’s social media updates about their situation, he decided to help (pictured, Melissa)
Sargent Mike Pitrusu, head of the employee support and wellness unit, immediately offered his services to the family, and several officers quickly followed suit
Cuddle watch: When Melissa and Adam had to return to work in Grand Junction, a team of officers visited the hospital in shifts to cuddle Axel and send picture updates to his parents
So when Melissa and Adam had to return to work in Grand Junction, leaving baby Axel behind in Aurora for a week, Pitrusu came up with an idea to help ease Melissa and Adam’s worry.
Pitrusu decided that in their absence, a group of police officers would rally around the newborn, visiting him in shifts to cuddle him, and also send picture updates.
‘We wanted to provide more support for Axel,’ Pitrusu said. ‘I put a schedule out to our group. It filled pretty quickly.’
Almost 20 officers visited Axel every day in morning, afternoon and evening shifts, singing, reading and talking to him, with one officer even trying to teach the tot Elvis songs.
The officers on duty started referring to their hospital visits as “cuddle watch”.
In mid-November, Axel returned home to Grand Junction, and despite being born with health problems that may have left him blind, deaf and with skeletal problems, he can now see and has recovered much of his hearing.
He is also learning to breastfeed and steadily is gaining weight and doctors have described him as a ‘miracle’ baby.
The family is now hoping to raise more money to help Axel get the help he needs for the ‘long road ahead via a GoFundMe page.