Brayden Robinson was one of the smallest babies ever delivered by Dr. Nathan Strandmark at St. Catherine Hospital.

Now, nearly 11 years later, the still-small-for-his-size Brayden likes to work with some of the biggest animals he can find — pigs, cattle and sheep.

“Brayden is very, very active,” his mother, Kasey Robinson said last week. “He’s very involved in 4-H and showing animals. He loves it.”

Brayden was born in November 2008 at 3 pounds, 2 ounces at four weeks premature, and spent two-and-a-half weeks at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at St. Catherine Hospital. He is this year’s NBICU Graduate, recognized by the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

Each year, the Pro-Am names a graduate from the unit that the Pro-Am aims to help each year through the charity golf tournament.

“His head was less than your hand, and his legs were so tiny,” Kasey Robinson said of her and husband, Mo Robinson’s first-born child. “It was very, very nerve-wrecking.”

Kasey Robinson had struggled with high blood pressure during her pregnancy, but was not expecting Brayden to be born in November, when her due date was not until Jan. 2, 2009.

It all came pretty fast,” she said. “Doctor Koksal was my doctor for everything, but he had left for Thanksgiving. But a couple of days before we had met with Dr. Strandmark, and kind of had a little bit of a plan. Then, my blood pressure shot up and I went to the hospital and they induced me. And it went downhill from there — Brayden’s heart rate shot up so we ended up having a C-section.”

Of course Brayden had to be admitted to the NBICU after a premature birth, and weighing so little.

It was a possibility that Brayden would have to be taken to Wichita, but that never ended up happening.

“They did get to keep him in Garden. He was little, but his lung were OK,” Kasey Robinson said. “That was one of the biggest pluses — we got to stay here.”

Hospital bills for a birth and an NBICU stay were going to be enough — avoiding travel and hotel expenses was important.

“It makes a huge difference financially,” Kasey Robinson said.

Besides that, just staying with the familiar staff at St. Catherine was much more preferable.

“The care there, through the whole experience, was awesome,” she said. “All the doctors, all of the nurses, it was a big family … We are lucky to stay in Garden and receive the care we needed.”

Of course, Brayden being Kasey’s first-born, she and her husband, Mo, wanted to be at the hospital as much as possible while Brayden was in the NBICU.

“But they said we should go home,” she said. “Of course, they allowed me to be there as much as I wanted, but they were caring for him and they were caring for us as first-time parents, as well. They told us to go home and get rest.”

At first, the NBICU staff told the Robinsons that Brayden would not be able to go home until his due date (Jan. 2, 2009), but everything went so well in NBICU he was able to go home before Christmas — a welcome gift.

“I’m glad the golf tournament is used to support the NICU, because it’s an important part of our community,” Kasey Robinson said.

It helped the Robinsons — whom now also have a second child, 5-year-old Kasen — in one of the most difficult moments of their lives, and helped Brayden turn into the active little boy he is now, riding dirt bikes and helping out on the farm.

“He’s teeny, tiny still to this day,” Kasey said of Brayden, “but otherwise you couldn’t tell any difference.”