BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Community support is on the way for a Boynton Beach police officer's daughter, who was born more than four months early.
Emily Rivera, now 52 days old, has been growing and gaining weight at Bethesda Hospital East in Boynton Beach. Her parents say Emily is not 'out of the woods' yet, which is why so many people - strangers included - are stepping in to help.
Baby Emily came into the world at one pound, three ounces.
"I have to stand behind the plastic and just hope and pray that my kid is going to be okay," said Marilyn Garcia, Emily's mother, who has not left her daughter's side in the NICU at Bethesda. "You don't know how strong you are until being strong is your only option," she said.
Garcia leans on Emily's father, Jose Rivera, who is an officer with the Boynton Beach Police Department.
Rivera recalls the moment he first saw Emily. "There was no man-pride or anything like that," said Rivera. "I broke down. She held my finger and it literally only wrapped half my finger. That's how small her hands were."
The community is rallying around the family, turning out to blood donation drives held in and around Boynton Beach.
"It was for a law enforcement officer's infant. And to be quite frank with you, that's a call to arms," said Bill Keiser, who does not know Emily's family. "I did have a premature baby," said Keiser. "And twenty eight and a half years later, he's taller than me and stronger than me. She'll be fine."
Supporters of Emily have not only donated blood, they have mobilized online as well. A Facebook page has been set up where people can learn more about Emily and how to help. They are also using #TeamEmily for each social media posting on Facebook and Twitter.
"My child's life is just in the hands of the doctors and the nurses and God," said Garcia.
To learn how to help 'Baby Emily,' CLICK HERE.