A Manatee County couple has created a nursing scholarship at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) in memory of their infant son, who was born prematurely and died December 27, 2016 after 190 days of life.
The David Skinner Gerstenberger Memorial Bachelor of Science Nursing Scholarship honors the nurses who helped care for David and was established to help other nurses advance their careers. David was born prematurely on Father’s Day last June and was flown from Sarasota Memorial Hospital to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg within hours of his birth. David was diagnosed with Pfeiffer syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by premature fusion of certain skull bones. David went through 20 procedures, including operations for a tracheostomy, gastrostomy and removal of granulomas. He spent most of his life breathing through a ventilator.
His parents, Stephanie Skinner and Thomas Gerstenberger, worked closely with David’s nurses to learn how to care for their baby. They learned how to do everything from cleaning his tracheostomy to caring for his eyes. They formed a bond with the nurses and other families at All Children’s Hospital and are still in touch with them. After their son died, one of the ways they decided to give back was through the SCF scholarship for nursing students. Skinner and Gerstenberger both graduated from SCF and knew about the nursing school’s outstanding reputation.
They give back in other ways as well through volunteering for Ronald McDonald House; High Risk Hope, an organization that helps mothers through high-risk pregnancies; and at All Children’s Hospital. As difficult as the loss of their son was, they find joy in giving back to those who are struggling. They also are looking forward to seeing who gets the nursing scholarship and watching that person succeed.
Contact Allison Nash, SCF Foundation scholarship coordinator, at nasha@SCF.edu or 941-752-5633 to contribute to the scholarship.