MINNEAPOLIS - Baby Ruby Love was born to a Minneapolis couple much earlier than expected, but now her namesake is inspiring strangers in this season of giving.
"Everyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with Christmas," said Tiffany Kokal, of Deephaven, her camera clicking away as a four year old boy smiled in front of the twinkling lights of a tree.
She startedRed Velvet Moments Photography last year, hoping one day she could give to those in need, but not knowing her passion could so quickly bring much needed joy to the Lambrights, a family that knows about miracles.
"I think Ruby is the best definition I can think of of a miracle," said Lauren Lambright, of North Minneapolis.
Lauren Lambright was 25 weeks pregnant when she was stricken with severe preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
"When I got to the hospital and they told me my first thought was is my baby going to live?" she said. "I was terrified."
Little Ruby came into the world as a micro-preemie, at just 1.6 pounds, on July 4. She was due Oct. 12. In her parent's palm, she earned her middle name.
"Love. We just loved her so much. We never loved anything so much in our entire life, so it became her middle name, and it sounds nice," said Lambright.
One day Ruby Love will understand love's far reach.
"When I met them they are fun, outgoing happy people. For such a sad thing to go through their spirits never seem down," said Kokal, who met Lambright at her prior job in a dental office.
When Kokal heard about Ruby's medical bills, exceeding $10,000 after heart surgery and blood transfusions, she decided to hold free Christmas card sessions all weekend where families could donate.
After one Facebook post, explaining her idea, Kokal could barely keep up with outpouring of families wanting to help.
"I think once you have a new baby the perspective you have on sort of the fragileness of life kind of hit me," said Andrea Seven, who came with her baby, Oliver, and donated to Ruby's fund.
In all, more than thirty families brought in more than $2,000.
"It's just flooring, mind boggling," said Ruby's dad, Travis Lambright.
Kokal not only photographed Ruby's hospital stay and first day home, but also provided another magical memory for the Lambrights -- a reminder to us all, what can happen, if you believe.
"How happy I am she is here to celebrate Christmas with us," said Travis Lambright, looking at Ruby. "Both of them."
Lauren Lambright said at several points, she was near death and spent several days in the ICU.
Baby Ruby is still on a breathing monitor but is making great strides and now weighs more than 7 pounds, which is why Kokal hoped in this time of recovery, she could offer the Lambrights joy and memories for many holidays to come.
"I'm receiving more than I have ever received all of my Christmas life. Having done this and it makes me want to give more," said Kokal.
Since the story of Ruby's early entrance into the world aired Sunday Ruby's parents have been overwhelmed by people who want to help. They sent the following message.
Well, we certainly never thought of asking for help on facebook but we are so overjoyed people would ask us to do so. Lauren has been forced to be out of work a lot longer than we ever anticipated to care for Ruby and we have been trying to cut back everywhere we can. Travis works hard to provide but with the unexpected expenses rolling in it can be hard to make it all work. There are a few areas of need and you can choose to support us in anyway that tugs at your heart because we appreciate any little bit of help we get so very much!
If you would like to contribute to Ruby's medical bills you can give onlineor mail a check to a Fund Account we setup for Ruby's bills:
Mail a check made out to Ruby's Medical Fund Account to:
Att: Ruby's Medical Fund
333 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414