Erica Cusumano was born at HSHS St. John’s Hospital more than 30 years ago and had a lengthy stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Today she works in public relations at the hospital.
When Erica was born, her parents were told that her esophagus did not connect to her stomach and she could die if they did not operate. The surgery was performed immediately and was successful. However, she continued to have health problems until she was nine years old. Her esophagus continued to narrow over the years and several dilatations were required.
Erica’s parents, Joe and Karen Cusumano, had to pay very close attention to her when she was eating or drinking anything because she would often choke while trying to swallow. Her first year of life was the most challenging for the Cusumanos who were young, first-time parents. That first Mother’s Day is a day they will never forget.
“If he hadn’t given her CPR, she wouldn’t be here today,” Karen said through tears.
“She was choking. I had her in my arms and she was blue and lifeless,” Joe said. “Then she came back in my arms.”
Erica is now a healthy and happy adult who has been working at St. John’s for the past three years.
“It wasn’t until I walked into the NICU for the first time that I realized I’ve truly come full circle,” Cusumano said. “It wasn’t until that moment that I realized exactly what my parents had been though and how much our story could help others.”
HSHS St. John’s Foundation is in the beginning stages of the Imagine Tomorrow campaign that is raising money for a renovated NICU. The Asian Indian Women’s Association India Night Fundraiser and the Cares for Kids Radiothon were the first time Erica has publically told her story. The Cusumanos joined several other families in these efforts to raise awareness for the cause. The Radiothon brought in more than $176,000 for the children’s hospital and the AIWO event raised more than $156,000 for the NICU.
For her full story, watch this video from Radiothon. For information on how you can help the NICU project, call 217-814-5177 or
Register for the Little Miracles 5K with your family!
Be sure to register by March 25th to guarantee your t-shirt.
Are the demands of work, family and all of your other commitments keeping you from quality time from your significant other? For those with kids, do you remember life with your spouse before children? Has sleep become a forgotten luxury?
When was the last time you spent a few responsibility-free hours alone together? Beg, borrow or steal a babysitter/petsitter and make your escape for a weekend away. 18-24 hours away can be rejuvenating! You'll be amazed at the difference a night can make! (Remember to tell them SpringfieldMoms.org sent you!)
- Mission Oak Inn: Henry, Illinois. Mission Oak Inn is a country bed and breakfast near Peoria, Illinois that offers luxurious lodging in a quiet, comfortable atmosphere - a perfect place for a weekend getaway, honeymoon, or fishing vacation. the inn is located on 120 acres with a private 7-acre lake, abundant wildlife such as deer, fox, coyote, wild turkey, and numerous other birds. Near Peoria, Starved Rock State Park, and Utica; it is also a comfortable driving distance from Chicago, Bloomington, and Quad Cities.While good at creating a romantic setting for that perfect weekend getaway, the owners' expertise does not end there. They offer packages for those who love to golf as well as friends taking some time to get away. Phone: 309-370-4083.
- Historic Petersburg: The Branson House Bed and Breakfast. This beautiful 1876 "Eastlake" Victorian bed and breakfast can be found near Lincoln's New Salem. Four tastefully decorated rooms, each with private bath, are located on the second floor, accessible by the house's elevator. The house has seven marble fireplaces plus a gorgeous wood sculptured fireplace in the main entry. A full breakfast is included in the rates. Phone: 866-562-5095 or www.BransonHouseBnB.com.
- The Burr House Bed and Breakfast: Bloomington , Normal. Built in 1864 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Civil War era traditional (and gorgeous) home overlooks a tree-filled park surrounded by elegant homes. Try the Sunset Room with its private path and whirlpool tub or the Queen Anne Suite with a large private bath and a comfortable attached sitting room. Breakfast is amazing. Ask for the Pecan French Toast and enjoy owner Mary Anne's hospitality. This home is within walking distance of various historic sites, restaurants and Wesleyan and Illinois State Universities. The home is located at 210 East Chestnut Street . Phone: 309-828-7686 or 1-800-449-4182. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website: The Burr House Bed and Breakfast.
- Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain and Grille and Dr. Jazz Suite in Lebanon (outside of St. Louis) Located just an hour and fifteen minutes south of Springfield, off of Illinois Route 4, sits the wonderfully old and quaint town of Lebanon , which offers fabulous downtown shops including Fezziwigs and the amazing Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain and Grille offering delicious lunch and dinner fare. Owner Paul Krumsieg and his family renovated their upper level into a classy and comfortable getaway suite with two bedrooms and a billiards/bar/television room. The owners have thought of everything from pillow-top mattresses and luxury bedding to a flat-screen television with videos/DVDs and refrigerator stocked with your favorite ice-cream flavors from the downstairs soda fountain. Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain & Grille & Suite is located at 230 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon , IL. Phone is: 618-537-2200 or visit their website at: www.drjazzsodafountain.com.
- Historic Elegance: The Vrooman Mansion. Our readers say it's a step back in time...Built in 1869, the Vrooman Mansion (located an hour north in Bloomington) provides a beautiful atmosphere for you to reconnect with each other. The mansion sits on a park-like acre in the middle of the city. High ceilings and gorgeous windows highlight the spacious guest rooms, most with private baths. A delicious breakfast greets you in the morning at the home's original hand-carved dining table where dignitaries including Adlai Stevenson and Eleanor Roosevelt once dined with the Vrooman family. Fabulous woodwork, stained glass and leaded beveled glass windows adorn the common areas downstairs. Phone: 309-828-8816.
- Rustic and Unique: The Barn Bed and Breakfast. For any couple who loves the outdoors and is searching for a unique weekend away, consider renting a barn for a night, located between Peoria and Galesburg. You will enjoy the entire barn with a full kitchen in the "horse stall," a claw foot tub and shower, and a hayloft for additional sleeping room. Antique furnishings, wildflower walks, and a variety of wildlife make this visit a memorable one. 309-639-4408
- The Pasfield House: Close to home - Springfield style. (We won't tell if you escape in town!) An invitation to the historic Pasfield House is like being welcomed to an elegant private home from a bygone era, where style, gracious hospitality and exceptional service is still a way of life. Designated a Springfield Landmark, the 1896 Georgian-style residence is a remarkably preserved architectural treasure that has a most distinctive antebellum flair, and is within easy walking distance of the State Capitol and downtown Springfield. Phone: 217-525-3663.
The Fleur-de-Lys Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri. This is an amazing get-away close to The Hill, St. Louis University, the Fox Theater, Powell Symphony Hall. You are an easy drive from the zoo, Busch Stadium and so many other fun activities. But you might not want to leave the Mansion because the rooms are so comfortable, the beautiful garden area beckons and the hot tub is always ready to go. Plus, there are homemade chocolate chip cookies always ready for munching in the kitchen. Owners and hosts Jan and Dave have thought of everything, and the made-from-scratch breakfast is a delight with generous portions and all the extras. TripAdvisor gave it a #1 ranking for bed and breakfasts in St. Louis, and you will agree. Phone: 314-773-3500.
For more suggestions: check out the 15+ additional reader recommendations from our facebook survey! There's a treehouse getaway on the list!
Did we miss one?
Share your favorite romantic getaway comment here or email Springfield Moms.
Prairie Heart Institute and HSHS St. John’s Hospital are joining patients and doctors together to celebrate the success of the milestone achievements they've reached with cutting edge minimally invasive heart surgeries, which are alternatives to open heart surgery.
Dr. Raja Gopaldas has performed over 100 minimally invasive cardiac surgeries, and HSHS is the only hospital in Illinois performing true minimally invasive cardiac surgeries. In a minimally invasive cardiac surgery, a heart valve or artery can be fixed, replaced or bypassed without "cracking the chest."
They've performed more than 500 TAVR procedures (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), a minimally invasive procedure used to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly. This procedure is available to patients who otherwise wouldn't be candidates for traditional valve replacement. In TAVR, a small catheter is passed through the leg and up to the heart. The disease valve is replaced without stopping the heart or even making an incision in the chest.
The Prairie Heart Institute at HSHS St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. With access to more cardiovascular experts than any other facility in downstate Illinois, their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. The Prairie Heart Institute champions an innovative approach to the treatment of cardiovascular disease utilizing minimally invasive technologies such as TAVR, MitraClip and minimally invasive cardiac surgery. And while the Prairie Heart Institute clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and vascular disease through clinical investigation and research. For more information about the Prairie Heart Institute, visit https://www.st-johns.org.
We asked our readers what they give for the best baby shower gifts. Thanks for helping us compile the list and please share in the comments any additional ideas.
Diapers were the number one suggestion from our readers. Several suggested a diaper cake that includes other baby items. Such as lotions, thermometers. body wash, or wash cloths. Diaper suggestions also included giving multiple sizes and baby wipes.
Reader Chrissy P suggested a Bumbo. Bumbo's are a chair for babies to sit in. Check them out here! http://www.bumbo.com/
Car Seats were suggested by multiple readers. Chicco was a popular brand. Their Keyfit seat and stroller systems make for easy on the go ways to help baby travel. Check them out here!
A fun idea for new parents is to start their child's library. Bring a favorite bedtime story or a classic Dr Suess Book or Goodnight Moon. Some suggested the book instead of a card.
The Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Rocker was suggested by Hillary F.
Instead of bringing clothes the baby will wear right away bring in a few clothes in the bigger sizes suggests Marie Z.
Kim W. suggested an all wood highchair.
Baby clothes are alway appreciated, as well as Muslin wrapping blankets. Aden & Anais are a very popular brand for the blankets.
Pacifier clips, chewable bead necklaces, and toys rounded out our list as well.
Fisher Price Rock 'n Play is a great baby gift for baby to sleep in and relax.
Thank you to our readers for helping us compile this list!
- Plan a morning with friends and learn how to make yummy Pin-worthy desserts at LLCC's Desserts Class on Saturday morning. Read more here.
- Shop for a cause at Big Hearts for Tiny Starts at The Blue Door Gallery on February 10. Read more here.
- Treat the family to live theater! Into the Woods Jr. is at Hoogland Center for the Arts February 10-12.
SpringfieldMoms offer these suggestions for Valentine's Day:
- "Love letters shared through the family with mailboxes. And a big surprise for the kids on Valentine's Day, surprising them with a family activity and a dinner date." - Amanda G.
- Head to the library or book store for a new book. Check out our Valentine's book suggestions.
- "Make a sweet treat for the family." - Laura C. Check out our recipe suggestions!
- "I like surprising your date with a scavenger hunt throughout the day... Hide things the day before at work... Around the house, in their laptop bag/purse...in their car and then text clues throughout the day to find the treats... the last treat can be left at a restaurant where they meet you for dinner!" - Kim L.
- "Have an early Valentine's Day lunch, then go to grandma's house." - Mandy M.
- "Spend the night in. Make a fancy dinner for the hubby and watch a good movie when the baby goes to sleep." - Sarah H.
- Check out our Mom's Choice coupon for Bella Milano
Looking for an easy romantic getaway?
We asked our SpMoms Facebook followers to share their favorite Bed and Breakfast or charming hotel within a 4 hour drive of the Springfield IL area. Sometimes an 18-24 Hour getaway is the best recipe for reconnecting and rejuvenating!
Check out these reader-approved retreats!
"Blessings on State B & B in Jacksonville- Lovely & wonderful hospitality!" -Shanna, blessingsonstate.com (Coming soon: an in-depth visit from SpMoms at Blessing on State
"Brightwood Inn in Oglesby IL - Quaint!" -Vaneza K. brightwoodinn.com
"Bishops Hall Bed and Breakfast in Oak Park, IL" -Natasa W. bishopshallusa.com
"Jumers Chateau in Bloomington. It is very uniquely decorated and the on-site restaurant is amazing!" -Leila L. bloomingtonchateau.com
"Shawnee Hill Bed and Breakfast in Makanda, IL" -Lindsey L. shawneehillbb.com
"Piece of Earth Lodge" - Josh B. peaceofearth.net
"Ten Acre Treehouse in Nauvoo for a unique experience" -Jessica B. facebook.com/Ten-Acre-Treehouses
"Queen Anne Guest House Galena, IL" -Kim P. queenanneguesthouse.com
"Vrooman Mansion, Bloomington/Normal. Beautiful place to stay, period furniture. It's like stepping back in time." -Angie B. vroomanmansion.com
"The Green Gables Inn, White Hall" -Mandy A. greenegablesinn.com
"Dr. Jazz Soda Fountain/Grille" in Lebanon, IL- Julie K. & Kim R. drjazzsoda.com/
"Brightwood Inn" - Melissa C. & Denise M. brightwoodinn.com
"Makanda Inn & Cottages on the Southern Illinois wine trail" -Jenny V. & Kelly B. makandainn.com
"The Loft on the Square - Petersburg, IL" -Katie C. facebook.com/pg/Theloftonthesquare
"Beall Mansion in Alton IL. The owners are super nice and the B & B was beautiful." -Vanessa F. http://beallmansion.com/
"Pere Marquette Lodge" -Crystal J. pmlodge.net
"House of Nahum, Shawnee National Forest. Quiet, hiking trails, and beautiful! Great for anniversaries." -Tammy G. bbonline.com/united-states/illinois/harrisburg/houseofnahum
"William Watson Hotel in Pittsfield IL" -Andria C. williamwatsonhotel.com
"Sunset Inn Fantasy Suites, Clinton, IL" -Amber M.
- You will find more recommendations on our Romantic B&B Get-Away post.
- Thanks to Good Day Marketplace for showcasing our Boredum Busters for Kids & Romantic Getaways for adults on their show!
This is one of our favorite resources to share with readers - the Summer Camp Directory and Activity Guide. If it seems earlier and earlier that we debut this popular directory, you are right! Every year our readers start asking for camp information sooner, so here you go! We aim to please. Our local sponsors of the directory offer a wide variety of camps available this year from week-long or half-full day camps. Topics such as art, computers,science, soccer, horseback riding, pottery, and tons of outdoor adventures with kids of all ages!
It's all here, and we update WEEKLY, so check back and Share with your friends, too.We appreciate your enthusiasm for our resources! Plus, isn't it fun to think about summer during a cloudy cold week?!
This coffee cake recipe will be sure to become a family favorite!
Recipe submitted by Sheila Caldwell
Heat oven to 325 degrees
- 1 box Yellow Cake Mix (Duncan Hines)
- 1 large box vanilla instant pudding
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil (I used applesauce for a lower calorie option)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup water
Beat ALL ingredients with an electric mixer for 10 minutes.
Topping: 1/2 cup sugar 2 T cinnamon (*tip, use Vietnamese Cinnamon from Penzey’s Spices for enhanced cinnamon flavor!) You don’t need to use all of the topping.
Grease 9 X 13 pan and flour pan, Pour half batter in pan. Sprinkle 1/2 topping, then repeat.
Marble with a knife.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes and then check . When inserted toothpick comes out clean…it’s done!
Cool before removing from pan.
Icing: 1 stick butter, melt till just dark, add powdered sugar till thick. Drizzle over warm cake.
The icing was very sweet so you can apply as much or as little to your liking!