ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando teen is making sure every baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at Winner Palmer Hospital has a Halloween costume this year.
Every night for the past month, Rachel Maretsky, 13, would sit at her kitchen table to make felt superhero capes.
"I'll cut out all of the blue capes and all of the yellow shield and all of the red S's, so normally to do one whole set of them, it takes maybe a week," Maretsky said.
She would spend hours tracing, cutting and gluing the pieces of felt together into superhero capes for the NICU babies.
Maretsky started this project last Halloween. The teen said she got the idea after seeing a nurse from a hospital in Kansas City do something similar for the babies in their NICU.
"I always loved doing crafts and then when I saw that, I thought it would be the perfect project for me to do," she said.
This year, she made 125 superhero capes, using designs modeled after Superman, Wonder Woman and the Incredibles.
Each one was hand made and she delivered them to the families in the hospital just in time for the holiday.
Stephanie Casaceli, the volunteer coordinator at Arnold Palmer Medical Center, said many families don't anticipate having their children at the hospital during Halloween.
"To have this cape costume for them, it's just really special for them to be able to celebrate the holiday here," Casaceli said. "She has really taken that worry of having a costume away from those parents because she's able to give that to the family and they're ecstatic to see their little one in a tiny (incubator) with a costume on, it's just so meaningful to the families."
Maretsky made her final delivery to the NICU on Wednesday. While she was there, she met a set of twins who were in the NICU last year. They were born last Halloween and their first costumes were the Batboy and Batgirl capes Maretsky made for them.
The twins came back to the hospital dressed up in the same costumes. Their mother told Maretsky the capes meant so much to her.
"She was so thankful and happy that I did it and she was just so grateful," Maretsky said.
The teen said these capes are more than just pieces of felt. Each one is getting results for babies and their families by giving them the strength and power they need to fight for their lives.
"They just came into the world and they're surviving and thriving in this little incubator with all these tubes attached to them and they're getting used to it and surviving, which is amazing, so that means they really are superheroes," she said.