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Newborns receive GSU Eagle blankets
Georgia Southern alumna Kelley Burns and newborn son Grayson receive the first Eagle Fund baby blanket from the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation at the Women's Pavilion of East Georgia Regional Medical CenterTuesday. Every child born at the center from now on will receive an Eagle Fund blanket. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

A partnership between Georgia Southern University and East Georgia Regional Medical Center to provide a new “Eagle Nation” blanket to every child born there could bring new meaning to the phrase “lifelong Eagle fan.”
    Starting Tuesday, the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation joined the hospital to supply all babies born at the East Georgia Women’s Pavilion with a Georgia Southern University baby blanket, said GSU Athletic Foundation Eagle Fund executive director David Beaubien.
    “It is a joint effort between our foundation and the hospital. We just want everybody to be an Eagle. We are very excited. … This program is a way for us to welcome the newest members of our community and to plant the seed of passion that will grow into a lifetime of embracing the university that we all love so deeply here in Statesboro.”
    Each year, more than 1,500 babies are born at the East Georgia Women’s Pavilion, said Bob Bigley, the hospital’s president and CEO.
    “This is a great way to welcome each and every one of them,” he said. “We are proud to partner with the Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation on this great community initiative.”
    On Tuesday, new mother Kelley Burns looked on as nurses swaddled her newborn, Grayson Andrew Burns, born May 3, in his new GSU Eagle blanket.
    As she reached to help her son with his pacifier, Burns spoke softly: “Say, ‘Georgia! Southern!’ ”
    The baby blankets are white with the GSU athletic logo printed in navy blue. The logo print is a special fabric to match the softness of the baby blanket, said Sally Scott, the GSU Athletic Foundation Eagle Fund program coordinator.
    “I think it’s great,” Burns said about the program to provide all newborns with the blankets. “It’s the perfect gift!”
    Burns also was presented with a gift bag filled with more GSU Eagle baby attire as a special gift for being the first new mom to receive a blanket. One of the gifts was a bib reading, “I drool blue.”
    Will this help inspire baby Grayson — born a month early at 6.6 pounds and 20 inches long — to become a GSU Eagle?
    “Most likely,” Burns said. “I was.”
    She graduated from Georgia Southern in 2002.
    Grayson was a bit fussy when met with the small crowd Tuesday but soon settled down after being tucked into the blanket.
    “He’s premature, but this blanket came along and made him a little stronger,” Burns said.
    Burns’ husband, Grayson’s father, is Ryan Burns.
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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