CINCINNATI -- Fiona the hippo is more than a quarter-ton of social media star: She's also a source of inspiration for kids such as 5-year-old Calvin Underwood.
Like the well-loved water horse, Calvin was born prematurely and tube-fed through his earliest weeks of life. Ashley Simon, an education specialist at Children's Hospital, helped Calvin and other babies at the NICU overcome their first obstacles and grow into happy, healthy children.
"We take care of these babies for such a long time, they become part of your life," Simon said.
And then they leave. Calvin was adopted by Britt Underwood and became a part of her family, but Underwood knew they owed something to the people who took care of him before she did.
She took him to a NICU reunion at the Cincinnati Zoo and asked the first person she saw if they could point her to the nurse who had cared for Calvin. It was Simon.
"She came up to me and said, ‘I'm just wondering if you can help me. Someone took care of my son when he was here,'" Simon said. "I was like, ‘No, you're kidding me! I was your nurse!'"
At the reunion, Calvin got a NICU superhero cape to wear -- just like Children's Hospital sent to Fiona after treating her as a baby.
Underwood said she sees her son and Fiona as a pair of survivors.
"They've both fought a long, hard battle, and they both came out the other side stronger," Underwood said.