David Osterweil’s Story: Marathon Runner Gets Unexpected Lesson in Perseverance

David Osterweil’s story is like so many others.  A bright, energetic young man leaves home for college, works hard, pursues a career, meets someone he wants to share his life with, has a family, returns to his hometown, and launches a successful business. But along the way, the avid marathon runner and his wife Laura took an unexpected and frightening detour on the way to the happy and fulfilling life they now share.

In the spring of 2008, they were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child and Laura’s pregnancy was progressing uneventfully. In preparation for the delivery the couple took a tour of St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.

“I was impressed with the hospital, but I do remember seeing the NICU and thinking how tough it must be for those families to be there,” shares David. “We had no reason to think we would soon be one of them.”

That May David got the call that Laura was in labor and rushed to be by her side. A few hours later they met their beautiful daughter Sloane for the first time.

“I remember seeing her little face and feeling so overwhelmed with love. But then in what seemed like an instant Sloane, and I were being whisked off to the NICU – and everything after that felt like a blur.”

Sloane was having difficulty getting air through her nose, which is primarily how newborns breathe, and the situation was immediately urgent. But the medical team in the NICU was able to intervene and stabilize the newborn so she could get the air she so vitally needed.

David breathed a sigh of relief believing his daughter was no longer in harm’s way. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of their journey.

“I remember Sloane’s doctor, Karin Hotchkiss telling us we were going to be on this road for a very long time. I was terrified. I felt like I went into the hospital as a kid and became a man within the span of a few hours.”

David was used to the grueling demands of running long distances, but this was a marathon he didn’t feel ready for. Sloane spent two weeks in the NICU and her next three years were filled with visits to all different kinds of specialists; multiple tests, procedures and surgeries; and too much time spent in the hospital.

“It was exhausting and scary, but somehow everyone at St. Joe’s made it easier. It’s hard to explain but as we were going through one of the most difficult times of our lives, they were by our side making sure we were supported and heard and cared for. That gave us tremendous confidence that Sloane would be okay.”

Today, Sloane is doing more than okay. Though there are still some lingering challenges stemming from her rocky start, she is a typical teenager with a bright future who enjoys running on her high school’s cross-country team and is getting ready to look at colleges.

All of which is miraculous to her Dad, who is quick to point out that what Sloane endured those first few years is never far from his mind.

“Every single day I am grateful to see my daughter thriving, and I know so much of that is because of the incredible care she received at St. Joe’s. When you spend as much time in a hospital as we did, in as many different parts of the hospital as we did, you notice the big things and the little things and we were consistently impressed.”

So much so that a few months after Sloane was born David volunteered to become part of the St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation Board and continued to be a part of the board when it merged with the main hospital Foundation where he still serves to this day.

“I’ll be honest, before this happened to us, I never thought much about St. Joe’s. Now I know the work they do is unbelievable and supporting that work make me proud. I do this not simply as a way to say thank you for what they did for my daughter, but because of what they do for so many people right here in our backyard. The lives they save, the lives they change, the lives they touch – being a part of that is one of the best things I have ever done because I know I’m helping to give to others what St. Joe’s gave to me.”