Teen donates rocking chairs to NICU team that saved his life

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Almost 18 years after Zach Cicero left St. Joseph Hospital, he returned Thursday to deliver new rocking chairs to the medical team that saved his life. (WLS)

Almost 18 years after Zach Cicero left St. Joseph Hospital as an infant, he returned for the first time Thursday to deliver new rocking chairs to the medical team that saved his life.

"I just had to come back and help out the people that helped me," Cicero said in St. Joseph's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he lived for three and a half months after being born at 25 weeks.

"This is like a homecoming...Without them, we wouldn't be here with Zachary," smiled Zach's mom Cathy Cicero, sitting in one of the chair he delivered.

"I would read to him, I would play music for him...We would sit in the rocking chair and just talk," said the mother of three of the challenging weeks when she could not take her newborn home.

That newborn is about to graduate high school and is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout. For his service project, the St. Patrick High School senior and friends put together four new rocking chairs by hand to donate to the NICU.

As Cicero carried the last chair into the room, a mother and her three-day-old baby girl were already enjoying the gift.

"It's not something you could like prepare yourself for. One of the best moments of my life, I can tell you that," he said.

Cicero turns 18 this upcoming Sunday, so the hospital staff--including those who cared for him years ago--threw a small birthday party, complete with cake. He'll start school at Concordia University Chicago in the fall where he's playing football.
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