Plantsville Family Named March of Dimes Greater Hartford Ambassadors
| Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Leigh-Anne Lefurge, March of Dimes, (860) 815-9353, [email protected]
Family to speak at March for Babies at Rentschler Field on Sunday, May 1st
East Hartford, CT, February 09, 2016 —
On Sunday, May 1st, thousands from the Greater Hartford area will gather for March for Babies at Rentschler Field to benefit the March of Dimes. Leading the festivities will be the event’s 2016 Ambassadors, Nik and Susan Vassiliou of Plantsville, along with their sons, Nikolaos, age two, and Michael, nine months. They will thank walkers for their commitment to the March of Dimes mission to give all babies a healthy start, and walk in memory of their daughter, Eleni, with “Eleni’s Team.” Since their first walk in 2012, their March for Babies team has raised nearly $17,000.
In January 2012, Susan and Nik were looking forward to the birth of their baby, and at 19 weeks went to their doctor for what they thought would be a routine checkup and ultrasound. Instead, further testing revealed that their daughter had Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality in females caused by complete or partial absence of the second sex chromosome. This condition occurs in about 1 in 2,500 newborn girls worldwide, but it is much more common among pregnancies that do not survive to term (miscarriages and stillbirths). Just days after the initial diagnosis, Eleni was delivered stillborn at Middlesex Hospital.
“I never imagined that anything like this could happen to me. From everything that you read and learn, you assume that after you complete your first trimester you are going to have a healthy, happy baby,” said Susan. “Through everything I never asked myself, why me? The truth is, why not me? As I came to learn, babies become sick all too often.”
Each year in Connecticut more than 36,000 babies are born. 1 in 10 babies are born too soon, and 1 in 7 infant deaths is attributed to a birth defect, and nearly 200 babies die before reaching their first birthday. The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality through research, education, advocacy and community programs.
After their tragic loss, Susan, looking for support and comfort, found the March of Dimes online and ordered its materials about bereavement. They also learned about the organization’s walk event, March for Babies, and decided to form a team in memory of Eleni.
“We found a way to memorialize our daughter. We don't have a birthday for her, so for us, the March for Babies event is her birthday - a day when we can remember and have a whole day dedicated just to her,” said Susan. “I am so happy that our two sons will always be able to celebrate their sister, who they wouldn't know as well without the March. The March provides an opportunity for them to see their sister is real and be a part of her life.”
“I also hope to be a positive influence to women, so that they do not have feel ashamed of their loss, whether it be a miscarriage or a stillbirth,” continued Susan. “I hope to show them that their loss is important in their lives and that they do not have to hide it or keep it a secret.”
March for Babies participants can meet the family and hear their story at March for Babies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Sunday, May 1st. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. with the walk kicking off at 10:00 a.m. To register visit marchforbabies.org/event/greaterhartford or marchofdimes.org/ct.
Prior to the walk at Rentschler Field on May 1st, the March of Dimes will also host Run for Babies, a timed 5K. Runners of all levels, and those with running strollers are welcome. Registration is available online at runforbabies.org/Hartford. Registration prior to April 15th is $30. There will also be a kid’s fun run and all registered children will receive a superhero cape.
Greater Hartford March for Babies is presented by Cigna, and sponsored by Aetna, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Pullman & Comley, LLC, Updike Kelly & Spellacy, PC, Bob’s Discount Furniture, NBC Connecticut, Lamar, Connecticut Parent Magazine, The Hartford Courant and kidtivity.com.
For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefitted from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at marchforbabies.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. The 2016 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter, Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna, United Airlines and Mission Pharmacal.
About March of Dimes
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.