ORLANDO, Fla. – A Seminole County firefighter and father of four spent every day of his son’s hospital stay dancing.
“It’s connecting all these different people, positive things have happened from a nine-second clip, which is essentially a four-second dance,” Chris Askew said.
Askew’s son, Dylan, was born two months early and needed special care at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. Every day that his son spent in the hospital, Askew made a video.
“I’ve been making silly videos my whole life. No one ever noticed them,” Askew said.
His videos were created using the app TikTok. With more than 1 billion users, TikTok was the most downloaded app in January. After Askew posted his first video dancing at a Ronald McDonald house with the hashtag #Dancing4Dylan, he woke up to hundreds of thousands of views.
His reach continued to grow with each dancing video, along with his promise to keep dancing until his son left the NICU.
“I’ve been getting messages from people from all around the world, and when they find out that I’m in the room with the child sleeping, and my wife can stay with him there, they’re blown away. They’re like, ‘Well, I have to drive four hours each time,’” Askew said.
The connections Askew has made with other parents through the TikTok app have given him perspective about the quality of care for other premature newborns across the country. He even received a message from an organization in Australia that he hopes to expand in the United States.
“Just talking to them and having that positive energy helps them get out of here quicker, so you know, being here more often is the best medicine for him,” Askew said.
Baby Dylan was able to go home Monday after spending 50 days in the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies NICU.
If you’d like to support Askew’s goal to begin a “Miracle Babies” chapter in Florida, you can visit his fundraising website here.