By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The tiniest of patients got a way to keep warm this winter. A group of high school swimmers delivered handmade blankets to the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Colorado Hospital. In return, the students got an education about premature birth and the wonders of modern medicine.

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“Can’t wait to get him home,” Erica Granger told CBS4.

Erica Granger with baby Jace (credit: CBS)

Erica Granger with baby Jace (credit: CBS)

That’s because home has been the hospital ever since Jace Granger was born. He was 15 weeks premature. His first 71 days of life have been spent in the NICU.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride in the beginning, but now it’s more stable,” said a grateful Granger.

She is hopeful her baby boy can go home in a few days, just in time for Christmas.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Recently, Jace got an early gift — a delightful dotted blanket made by members of the Regis Jesuit High School swim team. More than a dozen of the swimmers delivered nearly 40 blankets to keep the tiny babies in the NICU comfortable. The team members made them after practice one day, a gesture of gratitude.

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“We’re so fortunate for what we have, It’s just a great opportunity to give back,” said Regis Jesuit swim coach Nick Frasersmith.

Nick Frasersmith with his swim team (credit: CBS)

Nick Frasersmith with his swim team (credit: CBS)

The teenagers gave, but they also received. They got a lesson in what happens when a baby shows up too soon.

“While he was here in the NICU he (Jace) just developed as he was, outside of me, rather than inside,” said Granger.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The swimmers left a little wiser and warm in the knowledge their blankets will be treasured.

“It will definitely hold a special place in my heart,” said Granger. “And Jace, I’m sure that blanket will be one of his favorites.”

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Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.