March of Dimes holds annual fundraiser to raise awareness for premature birth

Thousands of families and local business leaders will join together on this spring across the Houston area for the 2017 March for Babies, the nation’s oldest fundraising walk, which helps more babies survive and thrive.

This year’s Houston Ambassador Family is the O’Brien family. Leanne and Kieran were excited about becoming parents in 2015 and looking forward to starting their family.  But their baby twins, Remy and Ronan were born at 28 weeks weighing 3 pounds 2 ounces and 2 pounds 3 ounces, respectively, when Leanne was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Leanne was unconscious for four days and nearly lost her life due to complications while the twins spent their first 140 days fighting for life in a hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  Today, the O’Brien family is dedicated to making sure other parents don’t have to experience the same trauma.

Cris Daskevich, senior vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital and Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, serves as the 2017 Houston March for Babies chair. “For the past 20 years, my career has focused on improving care for mothers and babies. Texas Children’s mission is to provide the best possible patient care, education and research to advance the health of all women and children” said Daskevich. “As a mother, I am delighted to serve in this important role to raise awareness and funds to support the March of Dimes and our shared vision of preventing birth defects and premature birth.”

Houston-area residents 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. Local event details are as follows:

  • • Houston: April 23, University of Houston, Registration 8 a.m. Walk Start 9 a.m.
  • • Fort Bend: April 29, Constellation Field, Registration 8 a.m. Walk Start 9 a.m.

“March for Babies is a memorable and rewarding event for the whole family,” says Daskevich. “We will celebrate children and parents who experienced the NICU by recognizing these families throughout the day with a purple superhero cape for NICU graduates and a symbolic lei for mom and dad. The event will also feature a birthday party celebrating the 5th anniversary of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, loads of fun in the kids zone and a variety of food trucks.”

“This year for the first time, participants will have the opportunity to walk through our Memory Mile and visit our unforgettable March for Babies Memory Garden. Those who have experienced loss will find a meaningful way to remember their baby by planting a flower in our butterfly garden,” she says.

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 40,992 in Texas. Funds raised by March for Babies in the Houston area support March of Dimes programs such as Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait, NICU family support and local research grants that provide comfort and support for moms, babies and their families.

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, HCA, and regional sponsor Publix Super Markets, Inc. In our community, March for Babies is sponsored by Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women, H-E-B, The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, Reliant, Community Health Choice and KPRC-TV.