When Marla and Patrick Stevens decided to produce a barrel race to raise funds for the Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center (SVHMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), they knew that they were signing themselves up for a lot of work.
The Stevens had produced a few small-scale events but nothing like the 250 racers per day experience that was the first annual Buckles and Barrels for Bailey event at the South Point Hotel and Casino’s Equestrian Center back in late November.
“We made some mistakes,” Marla laughs but the family is already planning the second annual event, to be held September 20-23, 2012, with some adjustments made from experience.
The inspiration behind the event is Bailey Rae Stevens, Marla and Patrick’s daughter who spent 108 days in the SVHMC NICU beginning when the infant was just four days old. Blessed with a miraculous recovery in their child, the Stevens resolved to give something back for the tremendous gift they had received.
“We felt that if God gives you a gift like this just can’t just look up and say thanks and go on,” Marla said back in early November (See story here.) “We had to give back.”
After much thought, the Stevens decided to produce a barrel race and donate all the proceeds to the nurses in the Spring Valley NICU who had showed great compassion and competence during their ordeal with Bailey.
“We were so happy and surprised,” says Naomi Jones, Marketing Director for Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, whose NICU is the only Level III NICU in Las Vegas. “The Stevens family was so generous and passionate about giving back to the neonatal intensive care unit- where they spent so much time watching Bailey grow.”
After discussing several different options with hospital personnel, Patrick and Marla settled on a scholarship program for the continuing education of the nurses.
“The scholarship was an idea I presented because continuing education is essential in any specialized clinical position – especially in high acuity units like a Spring Valley Hospital’s Level III NICU,” says Jones.
To that end, in late December, the Stevens family presented a check worth $18,456 to hospital officials, the complete proceeds from the race which also dished out over $52,000 to race participants. Of course, Bailey was on-hand at both the barrel race bearing her name and for the check presentation in December.
After such a rocky start, Bailey is defying the odds, as healthy as any child her age.
“She’s a funny kid,” says Marla. Bailey loves the horses just like her parents and even insisted on having her own rake to help clean stalls. “She’s just a riot.”
Some of Bailey’s nurses were on hand for the race in November, including one who hadn’t seen the child since she left the NICU in late 2010.
“He came down to the race and said, ‘where is she, I want to get my hands on her,’” Marla says. After finally finding Bailey with a family member, the nurse held her close and cried. It just confirmed to the Stevens that their hard work to produce the race was worth every hour.
Still, their entry numbers for the race came up a little shorter than they had hoped and Marla worried about the finances of their big venture.
“I was a little worried because I knew how many [racers] we needed to pay for the race. But it really added up– the time only’s, the vendors, and the raffle.” Numerous raffle prizes were offered and race participants and spectators bought tickets in droves.
“It was pretty good; we were definitely not expecting that high,” adds Marla of the $18,000 plus they were able to give for the newly named Bailey Rae Stevens Memorial Scholarship.
“I know Marla put her heart and soul into the event,” Jones says. “In 2012, a scholarship program will be managed and developed by the auxiliary in cooperation with the Stevens family for neonatal nurses.”
“I have tremendous respect for Marla and her husband who I had the pleasure of meeting when they brought Bailey by for a mini reunion,” continues Jones. “What a beautiful family! I look forward to continuing to work with them and seeing another event.”
For more information on the Stevens family, please see Las Vegas Rodeo Examiner story here.