A father of four is dancing his way into the hearts of the internet as he cheers on his newborn son, who was born 10 weeks premature and is currently in the NICU.
On January 12, at 30 weeks pregnant, Chris Askew's wife, Danielle, suffered a partial placental abruption, a pregnancy complication in which the placenta detaches from the uterus. She gave birth to a baby boy named Dylan, who weighed a little over four pounds.
Since his early arrival, Dylan has remained in the NICU at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Florida. And, as Dylan continues to gain weight and develop, Askew, 42, has found a unique way to cheer his son on and connect with other NICU parents: Posting a daily dance video to TikTok for each day Dylan remains in the hospital.
"Dylan's had a couple of bad days, but for the most part it's been really positive," Askew told TODAY Parents. "We just passed 21 days in the NICU, and we were two days in when I started my dancing. They haven't set an exact date when he'll be able to come home, but they're projecting maybe another two to three weeks."
Askew filmed his first dance video while doing laundry late one night at the Ronald McDonald House, where he was staying after his son's birth.
"I posted it and went to bed," Askew, who works as a firefighter and a realtor, recalled. "I woke up and I had like 400,000 or 500,000 views. And then the messages started coming in — there's been an outpouring of support for my family, and it's also helping other people somehow. People are thanking me and sharing their NICU success stories ... it's helped some families who lost babies in the NICU get through a tough situation and smile. I figured as long as that's happening, I'd keep dancing."
The dance videos, captioned "dancing till my son leaves the NICU," show Askew dancing to the same upbeat music clip in a variety of settings, from alongside Interstate 4 near his home in Osteen, Florida, to on the basketball court with The 407, the hip-hop dance team that supports the Orlando Magic.
Askew says he was inspired to dance after seeing videos posted by Adam Prioletti, a TikTok user in the United Kingdom who goes by Adam Bam on the social media platform. Prioletti created a now viral dance routine called the Adam Bam Dance in an attempt to gain followers. The 9-second music clip is an original sound clip uploaded by TikTok user hamdisalahh, which ends with a catchy beat that Prioletti made up his own moves to.
"I received a message on Instagram from Chris, saying he had made a video with my dance to dance his son out of the NICU, he hoped I didn’t mind him using it and if I did mind, he would happily take the video down," Prioletti told TODAY Parents in an email. "I replied to say, 'Go ahead and use it.' I loved his video and I could see it was a tough time, so I loved that he was taking a negative situation and doing something positive. From there we kept in contact ... he gives me updates on his little one in the NICU and I’ve been on the journey with him for the whole thing."
Askew, who has also danced with the University of Central Florida's "Knitro" mascot and rappelled down a rock-climbing wall to bust a move, says he will continue posting dance videos until Dylan is home with his other children, ages 5, 3 and 1, and his family is together.
"When this started, I really didn't have a mission for it or a plan," said Askew. "But now I've seen that it helps people and makes them smile, so I'm going to spread that out as much as I can to everybody."