Hiccup Girl breaks down on 'Today'

By Casey Cora and Mary Jane Park, Times Staff Writers
Published August 29, 2007

Jennifer Mee's relentless hiccups brought her more than international attention. They also brought her together with her biological father, NBC Today show viewers learned this morning.

The mention of her father brought tears to Mee's eyes during her brief appearance on the show about 8:30 a.m. Michael Mee is in Vermont, she said, and the two talk now by phone every day.

From New York, Jennifer told Tampabay.com today that her father contacted her through one of her sisters, whose father also lives in Vermont.

"It was a new experience," she said. "I didn't think I'd ever be able to get in touch with him, and now that I have, I'm glad I did."

Before that, she said, she hadn't seen him since she was about 2. This summer, she spent two weeks with Mee, and she reconnected with his parents.

"It was a lot of fun. Oh, man," Jennifer said. "I celebrated my 16th birthday with them.

"My grandma, I would describe her as a Christian lady. My grandpa is laid back. It's a good feeling. Because I never thought I'd be able to be a part of my dad's side of the family as much as I am my mom's."

"He's had some issues in the past," Jennifer's mother, Rachel Robidoux, said of Jennifer's father. "Maybe the time is right. I hope he doesn't disappoint her."

"A lot of it had to do with drugs," Jennifer said of Mee's earlier problems, which she said were not apparent during her summer visit.

She was part of a segment called "Where are they Today?'' that updated popular stories. Today flew her, her mother and stepfather Chris Robidoux to New York City for the appearance.

Wiping away tears on the air, Mee smiled while she answered questions about returning to high school and turning 16 and how she has gained control over the hiccups. She said the hiccups are gone, although her mother told tampabay.com Tuesday she still has occasional bouts.

Asked by anchor Ann Curry "What else is making you happy?" Mee replied: "Just everything." Mee said she doesn't know why the hiccups stopped when they did. "We don't know for sure," Mee said. "We have to say it was a mixture of everything."

Jennifer ran away from home briefly in June but said her relationship with her family in St. Petersburg has improved. "It's really good, I think, since I came back from seeing my dad," she told Tampabay.com. "I'm not as smart-mouthed, but sometimes I have my moments."