Preemie power: These 8 prematurely born babies are heroes, and here's why

TODAY - Premature babies are proof that adorable things can come in tiny packages. But, ask the parents of preemies and they'll tell you there's more to their children than their extreme cuteness.

Many preemies are born fighting for their lives — making these tiny babies tough, determined and heroic. So Hand to Hold, a non-profit organization that offers support to parents of premature babies, began celebrating the heroic feats of these little ones through its Preemie Power essay contest.

Now in its sixth year, the contest has announced the winners for 2015. Kelli Kelley, executive director and founder of Hand to Hold and a mom of two preemies, told TODAY Parents that the contest began as a way to bring awareness to the challenges that preemies and NICU babies and their families face.

"We wanted to give families a way to celebrate their children, their super hero powers, and all they have accomplished," Kelley said.

The essay contest is divided into age categories, with online voting deciding most of the winners. Additional awards were given to the grand prize winner and a winner chosen by Kelley herself, called the Executive Director's Award.

"I love reading about each little miracle's story and then seeing their amazing smiles," Kelley said. "Although many of the children have diagnoses common to babies born early and still require medical equipment, their smiles always shine through. We are thrilled to spotlight the bravery and strength that each child embodies."

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