GALVESTON — Annabella Grace Gartee celebrated her second birthday Aug. 13 by donating blankets to the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where she was born prematurely, weighing less than 3 pounds.

Her mother, Erica, was so grateful for the care her daughter received that she wanted to give back.

With the help of her mother Patricia Bolton-Legg, friends Cheryl Tessitore and Sabrina D’Olive, and Harlyn Rose Smith and Addison Harper Reinholz — who was a preemie herself — Erica decided to sew 50 colorful blankets for the babies in the NICU. Annabella even gave her favorite pink monkey blanket to the cause.

Erica and her husband, Michael, endured a long journey full of tears and disappointment with unsuccessful fertility treatments and lots of tension. After eight years of trying to get pregnant, she decided she was done. But it was soon after that Michael heard about a baby needing adoption.

“I fell in love with her before I even saw her,” Erica said. “We named her Annabella Grace, in part for my mother’s middle name Ann, and Grace because she was given to us by the grace of God.”

Dr. Joan Richardson and staff in the medical branch’s department of pediatrics were touched by the donation and said they are so excited to see the kaleidoscope of colors in the NICU.

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