Local Family Ranks Nationally in Fight against Prematurity
Statesville, North Carolina, July 09, 2014
In March of 2006, Mitch and Anna Johnson of Statesville welcomed their first son, Will, into the world at just six months gestation. Due to being born nearly three months premature, Will weighed only one pound, five ounces at birth. His twin brother, Sam was born three days later and weighed one pound, two ounces. Due to various complications from their premature birth, Sam passed away two days after delivery. As a gesture of support while Will was still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Mitch and Anna’s family started Team Will, a March for Babies Family Team.
The March of Dimes Foothills Division is pleased to announce Team Will has ranked number two in the nation for 2014 March for Babies Family Teams, making them the second highest fundraising Family Team in the nation; their fundraising efforts were led by none other than eight-year-old Will and his parents. In 2014, they raised more than $77,000 during the Iredell County March for Babies Campaign and have not only been the top Family Team statewide but also a top team nationally since 2009. They will receive national recognition from the Foundation this fall.
“The Johnsons not only continue to lead the way in our Iredell County March for Babies Campaign but also for the Foothills Division and North Carolina,” said Drew Isenhour, Foothills Division of March of Dimes Board Chairman. “We are so proud to have Team Will represent us in such a profound way.”
More than 4 million babies are born in the United States each year and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one of them through research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. Since inception, Team Will has raised more than $313,000 to aid in the Foundation’s efforts.
Today, Will is a happy and thriving eight-year-old little boy.
“When we were in the NICU, we never could have imagined life could be this good,” stated Anna. Will still receives vision therapy but for the most part is a healthy, happy child. He enjoys playing soccer, piano, gymnastics and is excelling in school. Anna encourages family members of premature babies to sign up for a Family Team in the annual March for Babies Walks. “Family Teams are a great way to show support to families who have a baby in the NICU,” she stated.
For Team Will, they walk to remember Sam, to commemorate Will’s journey and to fight for babies across the country but they want their community, state and nation to join them in the fight for the day no baby has to fight to reach tomorrow.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.