It was a normal appointment—until it wasn’t. Shelli was 20 weeks pregnant with triplets when her obstetrician brought his students into the examination room. Then, he asked Shelli to join him in his office.
She had a tear in her cervix and was in labor.
“He said I needed to go to the hospital immediately, and I would have to remain there for the duration of my pregnancy,” she says. “I asked what my other options were, but there weren’t any.”
So, she headed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital—then housed within Good Samaritan Hospital—where she lived for 13 weeks until her delivery, with her husband, Alex, by her side every step of the way. The staff transformed her drab hospital bed into a soothing canopy bed. At every four-week milestone, the cafeteria would bring her a cake. Shelli says it was “really as good as it gets” given the circumstances.
Sela, Ari and Alex were born just seconds apart—and in that order—happy and healthy, albeit a combined 10 pounds. They’d stay in the NICU until they reached 5 pounds each. Alex was the first to come home; Ari, the smallest, lived at Phoenix Children’s for an additional five weeks.
- “I truly believe if not for Phoenix Children's, they wouldn’t be who they are today—thriving, happy, healthy humans.”ShelliThe Triplets’ Mom
Shelli says the staff saved her triplets’ lives. “I truly believe if not for them, they wouldn’t be who they are today—thriving, happy, healthy humans,” she says.
Now: 22 years later
The triplets (and their mom, Shelli) have just returned from their fall U.S. tour with their band, Just Seconds Apart.
The 22-stop trek wasn’t their first—they’ve toured with the likes of the Plain White T’s and Jesse McCartney—but it was their first time being back on stage since the coronavirus pandemic halted live music in early 2020.
The 22-year-olds used the time away from live performances to really evaluate their band’s pop-rock sound and focus on the band’s future. There was more song writing, better instrumentation and even bonus work with their vocal coach.
“The pandemic made us look at this tour in a different way, a good way,” Alex, the keyboardist, says. “The time away made us feel surer of ourselves and strengthened the connection between the three of us.”
So how was Just Seconds Apart’s first show at Mesa’s Nile Theater? “Amazing,” according to guitarist Ari. “I was holding back tears the whole time. You really felt the connection with the crowd, and I hope they felt that connection from us too.”
The rest of the tour was just as emotional and just as rewarding for the siblings, who live and grew up in Scottsdale.
“The time away from touring for two years just made us so grateful to be back out with fresh eyes, a clear mind and a grateful heart,” Sela, the drummer, says.
Home, sweet home
It’s no surprise that Sela, Ari and Alex’s first time giving back to Phoenix Children’s was in an American Idol-style fundraiser called Kids for Kids. The 2003 event, planned by Shelli and her friends, with the kindness and support of Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Steve Schnall and Kelly Lane, raised more than $300,000.
- “It’s awesome to see the smiles on their faces and help be an escape for the hour we’re there playing.”AriThe Guitarist
Since then, the triplets have performed multiple times at Phoenix Children’s, where kids could come watch Just Seconds Apart at the hospital’s Garth Brooks performance stage or from their in-room TVs.
“It’s awesome to see the smiles on their faces and help be an escape for the hour we’re there playing,” Ari says. And Sela agrees: “We’re there to take them away from reality for a little bit. But it’s hard to keep a brave face—it’s always very emotional.”
But the family’s favorite way to give back has become a Valentine’s Day tradition 17 years in the making. Every February, Phoenix Children’s is filled with patients at the height of flu and RSV season. The family wraps 300 stuffed animals to distribute to patients at the hospital. A Phoenix Children’s employee dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog passes out the gifts—and boxes of chocolates for all the nurses’ stations.
“Phoenix Children’s is a landmark—people come from all over the world to get care. To be able to give back in the way we do is very special,” Sela says. “I’m thankful that we not only have them in our lives, but we are blessed enough to be in their lives.”
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