81-Year-Old Man Who Cuddles NICU Babies Donates $1M to Hospital

Sometime last year, Louis Mapp saw a special on local TV about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. Eighty years old at the time, he was inspired to become a volunteer. He followed through on that inspiration, and has spent the last year holding and rocking at-risk newborns. It’s the kind of care that increases their chances of survival, but is too time-consuming to occupy busy nurses.

“Every day,” Mapp says, “I ask the Lord, ‘Show me, somebody, where I can help them.’ It may not be financially, it may be giving them a ride, or making a phone call, but I figure, while I’m here on earth, I need to do everything I can to help others.”

Mapp, who is a father of three, grandfather of eight, and great-grandfather of two, is a very giving man. He is the custodian of the Mapp Family Foundation, a charitable body that has given out approximately 600 grants to aid the underserved. Mapp money has supported drug rehabilitation programs, food banks, and free clinics. Now, through Mapp, the Foundation has made its largest donation yet.

Mapp and his wife of nearly 60 years, Melinda, have donated just over $1 million in an endowment to the hospital, to be used as a supplement to their regular budget under the staff’s discretion.

“I’m 81 years old, and one of the neatest things I’ve ever done is being around those precious babies, and the nurses that take care of them,” Mapp told People magazine. He wants those nurses, and the other staff who work one-on-one with the patients, to have the freedom to decide what they need.

In that light, one of the first things his money will be spent on is special beds for the extremely premature—infants who weigh less than one pound.