When Theodore “Teddy” Lodico was born at the Albany Medical Center, it was clear that something was not right. The fears of Phil ’00 and Andi ’00 Lodico were confirmed when Teddy was diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a birth defect that causes abdominal organs to migrate into the chest cavity, impeding on heart and lung development. Teddy was immediately flown to Boston Children’s Hospital.
“When our son was born, we had never heard of this illness,” says Andi. The disorder is a potentially fatal condition – with only a 50 percent survival rate for infants diagnosed. “Once we knew he was going to survive, we realized just how lucky we were. Of course we asked: ‘Why did this happen to us?’ The answer became apparent – because we were supposed to do something about this.”
Inspired by their son’s fight, Phil and Andi set to work creating a way to honor the obstacles Teddy had overcome; thus, the Incredible Teddy Foundation was born. Today, the non-profit organization works throughout the Northeast to help families of babies born with CDH get the support they need.
The foundation partnered with Boston’s Children Hospital – the organization that gave Teddy life – and over the past two years, the hospital has helped the foundation connect with families. Often, a diagnosis of CDH can mean lengthy hospitalizations, piles of medical bills and other costs incurred from being away from home.
Through Incredible Teddy, families receive financial assistance, extensive literature on the disorder and, of course, a teddy bear. In addition to Incredible Teddy’s direct work with families and infants, the foundation has donated substantial grants to the CDH clinic at Boston’s Children Hospital to fund research.
Incredible Teddy recently held its second annual fundraiser at the Saratoga National Golf Club. Guests attended a golf outing, as well as a cocktail reception and silent auction – with goods donated both nationally and internationally. This year, the reception welcomed Dr. Jay Wilson of Boston Children’s Hospital as keynote speaker, who detailed the importance of education and good prenatal care.
“We were able to raise more money this year than last year – we are constantly growing,” says Andi. “We have excellent support locally and throughout the Northeast.”
In the two years since Teddy was born, the foundation has remained focused on families and research, staying true to the heart of the mission. “I worry about the future of these children, and my exposure to this illness has led me to incredibly heartbreaking stories,” explains Andi. “But in the end, I am happy to be able to do the work, and we feel grateful to give back.”
More information on the Incredible Teddy Foundation can be found on its website: http://www.incredibleteddyfoundation.org
At HWS, Andi earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was a Writing Colleague and a member of the Herons’ field hockey team. Phil received a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology, completing honors work in consumer choice theory.
The photo above features Theodore “Teddy” Lodico.