BU student launches charity as way to give back

BOSTON — Twenty-two-year-old Lena Papadakis just graduated from Boston University, and it was a major accomplishment.

“I don’t think anyone ever thought I’d get this far when we were in the thick of it. It was always the hope. It was always the goal. There was never a guarantee,” she said.

That’s because Lena and her sisters, who are triplets, were born 8 weeks early. All three spent time in the NICU at Mass General Hospital, but Lena, who was the smallest and weighed barely more than two pounds, stayed the longest. She was in the NICU for three months.

During childhood, Lena said she was a revolving door patient.

“By the age of 4, I could have as many as 32 episodes of pneumonia per year, so it’s safe to say MGH became my second home for a large portion of my life,” she commented.

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The hospital made such a big impact on Lena’s life, she was determined to give back. So, shortly after the pandemic began, she launched a charity called Preemie to Pre-Med. It’s made up of 25 students.

The mission is to raise money to support the Child Life and Wellness Program at Mass General Hospital For Children. The program provides comfort and joy for young patients and their families.

“Boston is a college town, and we have a lot of pre-med and pre-health students throughout Boston that want to make a difference,” Papadakis said.

Making a difference has helped Lena to just keep smiling on her journey from preemie to pre-med. Her goal was to raise $10,000. She ended up raising $32,000.

That’s enough money to cover all areas of need in at least some capacity through May 2022. It will also help fund new programs to support pediatric mental health and low-income families.

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