Eighteen year Cale Balusek had a tough start in life. His twin brother Caden died in-utero and he spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Baylor Grapevine as a preemie born two months early.
Knowing the struggles his family went through, Cale grew up grateful for the work and support that the doctors and nurses extended to him and his family.
"I wanted to combine my passion for tennis and my drive to say thank you," Cale said.
In an effort to raise money for the NICU in which he was a patient, Cale launched the Love Babies Tennis Tournament. The teen designed a logo, created a website and created a 501(c)3 to take donations. Over the past three years, Cale has raised $48,500 for the Baylor Scott and White NICU. The money has gone to life-saving equipment for the NICU and the families who spend time there. The first year, he raised $7,800, which went to a new x-ray machine that makes it easier and safer to perform x-rays on infants. The second year, Cale presented a $16, 500 check which bought Kangaroo recliners to allow mothers to sit down and rest their babies on their chest easier and more comfortably. Last year, Cale presented a $24,200 all of which went to a robotic baby so the doctors and nurses could practice certain procedures they want to improve on and prepare them for the "real deal."
Just like Cale appreciates the hard work the doctors and nurses do in the NICU, they appreciate the hard work Cale has done to raise money.
"Every year they are mind blown. Every year we set the bar even higher, trying to reach a bigger goal because I'm trying to give the biggest thanks possible," said Cale.
For Cale, this mission is about giving thanks and inspiring other young people to make a difference.
"It feels amazing that I'm able to help future families," he said. "But also one of the main reasons I wanted to do this is just help inspire others as well. Other kids who could have gone through a really hard experience but also anything else they just have a drive for...just to go with it and shoot for the stars really."
We're proud to call Cale Balusek this week's KRLD Difference Maker. To donate, you can log onto the website LoveBabiesTennis.
If you know someone who is making a difference in the community, send Susy an email at Susy.firstname.lastname@example.org.