From the NICU to the graduation stage: Lacee's Story - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

From the NICU to the graduation stage: Lacee's Story

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GRANT PARISH, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - Eighteen years ago, News Channel 5 met Frances and her baby daughter Lacee. 

"I got to hold her for the first time on Monday," Frances told News Channel 5 18 year ago. "They took her out and I got to hold her. It was really exciting. I cried."

Today, Frances Winegeart still tears up when she thinks about those difficult first months she spent with her premature daughter in Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  

"It brings back such memories," Winegeart said of watching the old footage of Lacee's hospitalization. "Just remembering the possibility of losing her, it was overwhelming. With her, every day was a question, Lord please, bless her, watch over her. Keep her safe. let her get home healthy."

Despite arriving 14 weeks early with underdeveloped lungs and heart problems, Lacee did get to go home and has been healthy ever since.  

"It's just a miracle," said Lacee. "It's a blessing."

So healthy that Lacee graduated this month from Grant High School having never missed a day of class in all 13 years.  

"It's something big," said Lacee. "I came into this world barely living, and now I'm graduating, and it just doesn't seem like it could have ever happened."

The proud parents say, their daughter's first weeks taught them to appreciate Lacee the miracle, and the following years taught them to appreciate Lacee the young woman.  

"Lacee's just that type of person," said her father, Houston Winegeart. "Her presence touches people, and anybody that gets close to Lacee and gets to know her, they're just in awe of her."

"She is probably the sweetest, kindest, most sweet spirited individual I know," said Frances Winegeart. "I know she's my daughter, but I truly believe that because she wants everyone to be happy all the time."

As Lacee watches the footage of her struggle for life, she has a message for her mother - then and now.  

"That I'm hanging on strong, and I love and care for her," Lacee said. "And thank her for everything she's done. And I don't know what I would do without her. I don't know where I would be without her."

And Frances says she has a message for Lacee - one that was, is, and will always be true.  

"I'm very proud of her."
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