SAN DIEGO MARCH FOR BABIES TO DRAW THOUSANDS TO HELP FUND THE FIGHT AGAINST PRETERM BIRTH AND OTHER THREATS TO MATERNAL AND INFANT HEALTH

San Diego, CA | Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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Thousands of families and local business leaders will join together on Saturday, April 29 at Balboa Park for the 2017 March for Babies, the nation’s oldest fundraising walk, to support the March of Dimes. Funds raised through March for Babies help in the fight against premature birth, now the leading global cause of death for children under five years old. In the United States, one in ten babies is born preterm ranking among the worst in high-resource countries. Babies who survive often face serious and lifelong health problems, including breathing problems, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March for Babies campaign has special meaning for the Smith family, this year’s San Diego March for Babies Ambassador Family.At 16 weeks pregnant, the Smith family found out they were going to have a little girl.  In the next breath they also heard the diagnosis of Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus, and the appearance of clubbed feet.  Due to Olivia’s condition, she was born by C-section at 37.5 weeks gestation to ensure no contractions affected the opening in her spinal cord.  Within thirty minutes of birth, Olivia was quickly transferred from Sharp Mary Birch to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego where she would spend the next ten days enduring more than most children experience in a lifetime.  She had two major surgeries within her first days of life; one to close the hole in her back and another to place her VP shunt.  The amazing nurses within the NICU ensured Olivia’s recovery was smooth and Mom and Dad were supported and well cared for too. Olivia is now a flourishing three-year-old. She utilizes leg braces, a gait trainer, wheelchair and hand crutches to keep up with her typical peers. “We continue to partner with multiple health organizations, including March of Dimes, to raise awareness of birth defects like Spina Bifida.”

                        “Supporting March for Babies is a natural fit for our organization,” said Dr. Donald Kearns, President and CEO of Rady Children’s and 2017 San Diego March for Babies Chair. “Our NICU takes care of the most critically ill newborns, many of whom suffer from severe heart and lung conditions or are born extremely premature, so we take a very real interest in supporting the work of March of Dimes to ensure that all babies are given the best opportunity to live happy, healthy lives.”

                        March for Babies is the largest annual fundraising event of the March of Dimes, but it also is a special celebration for many families. There is a sense of community among families who have experienced having a baby in the NICU. These families have experienced the roller coaster of emotions — from heart-wrenching to joy.

“March for Babies is a memorable and rewarding event for the whole family,” said Alexandra Loker, March of Dimes San Diego Executive Director. “We celebrate children and parents who experienced the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or special care nursery.  We’ll recognize these families throughout the day with a symbolic lei for mom and dad and loads of fun in the kids’ zone. And, for the first time, participants will have the opportunity to walk through our Memory Mile and Ambassador Alley. Those who have experienced loss will find a meaningful way to remember their baby,” she said.

Premature birth is the leading cause of death among babies in the United States. It affects about 380,000 babies that’s 1 in 10 born each year, including 41,560 in California. Funds raised by March for Babies in San Diego support March of Dimes programs that provide comfort and support for moms and babies as well as innovative research, including 32 research grants totaling almost $9 million in California alone, to find the unknown causes of premature birth and birth defects.

            San Diego March for Babies on-site registration begins on Saturday, April 29 at 7:00 a.m. in Balboa Park with the 3-mile walk kicking off at 8:30 a.m. ABC10 is the exclusive broadcast media sponsor with ABC10 Anchor Steve Atkinson hosting the San Diego March for Babies program.  Participants can sign up today at marchforbabies.org to start a team with co-workers, family or friends; or make a donation to help more babies get a healthy start in life.

      The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit peristats.org. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The 2017 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), and regional sponsor Publix Super Markets, Inc. San Diego March for Babies is sponsored by Platinum Sponsor: Jack in the Box, Gold Sponsor: Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Silver Sponsor: First 5 San Diego, Bronze Sponsors: LabCorp, Illumina, Stradling Attorneys at Law. Media Sponsors: ABC10 and Mommy Nearest.

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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.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.