AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – A very special reunion happened at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas over the weekend.

Former neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, babies and their families had the chance to reunite with the teams who cared for them in the hospital.

The reunion was held Sunday at Q2 Stadium by the nonprofit Hand to Hold in partnership with St. David’s HealthCare. There was also a graduation ceremony to celebrate former NICU babies of any age.

Since many NICU babies have a long stay in the hospital, parents often form lifelong relationships with their doctors and nurses, the nonprofit said. For many who attended, the reunion allowed them to get together for the first time since the pandemic.

“They see their NICU nurses more than they do their own family members because they’re in that NICU every day taking care of their child — and so it’s a very close bond that extends way past discharge,” Rhonda Reed, director of the NICU at St. David’s, said.

This was the first citywide NICU reunion, where all health care systems were represented.