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Hand to Hold® launches national NICU Graduate Then & Now Photo Contest to kick off graduation season
[May 07, 2024]

Hand to Hold® launches national NICU Graduate Then & Now Photo Contest to kick off graduation season

Kimberly-Clark's U.S. Huggies® brand is proud to serve as the national sponsor as part of its Project Hug™ campaign

AUSTIN, Texas, May 7, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit that provides early intervention mental health support for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) parents before, during and after the NICU has announced its 2024 NICU Grad Then & Now Photo Contest. The contest opens at 9:00 a.m. (CST) on May 7, 2024 and closes on May 17, 2024 at 10:00 p.m. (CST). The contest is free to enter and open to all NICU graduates of any age in the U.S. and Canada.

Hand to Hold celebrates & unites NICU families with annual contest while raising funds to ensure support remains free.

One in seven babies is admitted to the NICU each year in the US1. Some stay for a few days for monitoring, while others may stay for many months, as they overcome challenges associated with prematurity, low birth weight, birth defects or major medical issues, such as heart defects. "NICU Graduation" is an emotional and celebratory milestone for families regardless of the duration of their stay. When a baby is born early or with special healthcare concerns, milestones have a very different meaning.

"We were so honored that our son Rich was chosen as the winner of the NICU Grad Then & Now Photo Contest last year! It was an amazing opportunity to spread awareness about the many resources Hand to Hold offers to NICU parents. As a special bonus, Rich has loved starring as the cover model of the Then & Now calendar," said Sandi Allred, mom to the 2023 winner.

With the 2023 launch of the annual NICU Grad Then & Now Photo Contest, Hand to Hold® and presenting ponsor Huggies® have created a new tradition to celebrate this special NICU milestone. Huggies® has been a sponsor of Hand to Hold for almost a decade, and their support has been instrumental in helping to remove barriers for thousands of NICU families each year to access Hand to Hold's free mental health support.

"For decades, Huggies has been helping parents provide love, care and high-quality products to help their babies thrive," said Matt Barresi, North American Vice President of Huggies. "We hold our work with Hand to Hold incredibly close to our hearts and are proud to partner with this great nonprofit to celebrate this special occasion together with families."

Hand to Hold created this national annual celebration to unite NICU families while raising funds to ensure support services remain free to all NICU and bereaved families. "While this photo contest is designed to celebrate NICU graduates, we acknowledge and remember the babies who were unable to overcome the challenges they faced at birth. Their stories inspire us daily and underscore the need to celebrate NICU grads for all they have overcome and accomplished," said Kelli Kelley, Hand to Hold's Founder and CEO.

For more information enter & vote today! 


  • NICU grads may be any age to enter.
  • All NICU grads of any duration of stay are welcome.
  • Open to U.S. and Canadian residents. 

Entry Categories (the year the child graduated from the NICU):

  • Class of '24 - '23: Huggies® Little Snugglers ®
  • Class of '22 - '21: Huggies® Little Movers ®
  • Class of '20 -'19:  Huggies® Pull-Ups ®
  • Class of '20 -'19: Pre-K Kids
  • Class of '18 - '13: Elementary
  • Class of '12 - '10: Middle School
  • Class of '09 - '06: High School
  • Class of '05 & Earlier: Adult Grads


  • 100% of proceeds directly support NICU families through Hand to Hold® a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
  • All votes are tax-deductible. 
  • Donate to vote. Votes are $1 each and are unlimited. 
  • Win great prizes! Your child could be featured on the cover of our 2025 NICU Grad Then & Now calendars, win gifts to support your NICU team, and much more!

Learn more about prizing 

About Hand to Hold®:

Hand to Hold® is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to providing personalized emotional support, education and community to parents who have had children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or the loss of a baby. Hand to Hold is removing barriers for support by growing a hybrid model of in-person and virtual support in service to their mission. Support is provided in English or Spanish to parents at no cost to families, and all support is designed with the emotional, physical, and social needs of the NICU parent. For more information, visit Hand

About Huggies® Brand
For more than 40 years, Huggies® has been helping parents provide love, care and reassurance to their babies. From developing innovative, everyday products for babies to partnering with NICU nurses to develop a special diaper and wipes line for the most fragile babies, Huggies® is dedicated to helping ensure all babies get the care they need to thrive. Huggies® is proud to be the founding sponsor of the National Diaper Bank Network, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to eliminating diaper need in America since 2011. Huggies® is also the national sponsor of nonprofit Hand to Hold, which provides personalized support before, during and after NICU stays and infant loss. For more information on product offerings or our community efforts, please visit 

1Source: National Perinatal Information System/Quality Analytic Services; Prepared by March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, 2011.

Katrina Moline,
Executive Director,
email address: [email protected]

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SOURCE Hand to Hold

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