CANTON Jonathan Harold was born three months premature at Mercy Medical Center in 1998. He weighed just 2-pounds, 7-ounces and stayed in the hospital's Neonatal Special Care Nursery for nearly two months.
Fast forward 18 years and Harold is now an honor student at Lake High School who is giving back to the place that gave him his start on life.
Harold recently presented a $534 to Director of Mercy Maternity Service Stacy Kovacs, RN, MSN, during the Mercy Development Foundation board meeting May 9 at Mercy Medical Center. The check was the result of funds raised through his National Honor Society service project.
“He’s a very special young man and a grateful patient,” said Elaine Campbell, director of Mercy Fund Development in a news release. “He approached us. He called and said he’d like to do a fundraiser at a Lake High School baseball game and give the proceeds back to Mercy’s Neonatal Special Care Nursery.”
The son of Dan and Jennifer Harold, Jonathan was a varsity basketball player and plans to attend University of Cincinnati to major in information technology and cyber security. Each year, senior students in Lake High School’s National Honor Society are required to do a service project.
“I decided to donate back to the place that got me started,” Jonathan said in a news release. “I probably wouldn’t be here without the care I was given at Mercy.”
Dan Harold, Johnathan's father, remembers the neonatologist saying, " 'Whatever comes up, we will be very proactive, very aggressive, and whatever we can’t address, we rely on a higher power.’ To hear that from a doctor was very comforting ... Even if we saw the doctor during our visits to Mercy that day, he would still call us every night. He was amazing.”
Harold kicked off his fundraiser by collecting donations and raffling off Chipotle gift cards during lunch at Lake High School. He then partnered with Lake High School varsity baseball coach Joe Anderson to share his cause during a home game. First, he invited two community members who have a child being cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Akron Children’s Hospital to throw out the first pitch. Harold then shared his story at home plate and collected donations at an information table throughout the game.
Dan Harold, who is the principal at Lake High School, says Anderson has had his players active in community events and acts of service.
“He’s tried to have a cause behind every home non-league game, so he was the perfect partner to help Jonathan with his fundraiser. He’s a guy whose heart is in the right place,” Dan Harold said in a news release.
Harold's donation to Mercy Neonatal Special Care Nursery will be used to purchase pediatric stethoscopes, according to Kovacs.
“In this community, it is awesome to meet young people like Jonathan Harold and to learn that he understands that giving back in life is important,” said Thomas Turner, vice president of Development and Government Relations and president of Mercy Development Foundation, in a news release. “I applaud his parents, the Lake baseball team coaches, and school district supporters who have nurtured a young person to recognize the importance of philanthropy. Because of his efforts, babies born at Mercy will benefit.”
Harold says he is grateful his parents had him at Mercy and he’s honored to give back. When he shared with his parents his idea for the service project, Dan Harold says it made him extremely proud, and a little choked up, when he thought back to those early days and how far he has come in 18 years.
“My wife and I have always been so thankful for the care received at Mercy, and it’s nice to know that our son also realizes how lucky he has been," Dan Harold said.