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    2014 March for Babies

    Danielle Prenevost, March of Dimes, (612) 326-9444, dprenevost@marchofdimes.com

    10,000 to march for healthy babies in Minnesota

    St. Paul, MN, April 03, 2014 —

    On April 26 at Como Park, thousands of families and business leaders will join together in the March of Dimes annual March for Babies—the nation’s oldest walk fundraiser honoring babies born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive. 

    For the Marinkovich family of Minnetonka, the cause is very personal. Kyle and Tatum Marinkovich walk in the March for Babies for their two sons, 5-year-old Kellen born six weeks early and two-year-old Owen born nearly four months premature. Owen weighed less and two pounds and he was critically ill.

     

    He underwent many surgeries because of an infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV), the most common virus passed from mothers to babies during pregnancy. CMV causes birth defects in 8,000 babies each year. The March of Dimes is funding the development of a vaccine that can prevent the infection in women of childbearing age, protecting babies.

     

    Owen also suffered some of the most common problems of premature birth, including respiratory distress syndrome. His underdeveloped lungs were treated with surfactant therapy, a lifesaving treatment developed by March of Dimes grantees.

     

    Owen spent six months in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The next six months included many return trips to the hospital and additional surgeries. In all, he had 223 hospitalized days before his first birthday. Owen’s mom Tatum chronicled the challenges during his first year in her blog, Ain’t No Roller Coaster.

     

    “I know that without surfactant and vaccinations, Owen may not be here today. I understand the physical and emotional impacts of having a child born too soon,” said Tatum. “I support the March of Dimes because it is my hope that fewer and fewer families and ultimately no families have to know what it means to be a preemie family.  I love the approach of funding research for the future, supporting NICU families of today and educating moms of tomorrow.”

     

    When the Minnetonka family walks in March for Babies on April 26, they will have just celebrated Owen’s third birthday. Tatum says Owen’s best feature is his personality. “Somehow, he’s a smiley, happy little man who is determined and hard working,” shares Tatum on her blog. “He has a bright future, I know, will continue to amaze in the years to come.”

     

    March for Babies, the March of Dimes largest fundraiser, helps fund lifesaving research and educational programs aimed at helping moms have healthy babies. It funds programs like NICU Family Support at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. NICU Family Support provides information and comfort to families in crisis as well as education to staff.

     

    Last year, more than 6,000 people attended March for Babies at Como Park which raised $1.5 million statewide. This year Dr. Penny Wheeler, who is President and Chief Clinical Officer at Allina Health, is leading the fundraising efforts as chair of the March for Babies.

    Dr. Wheeler knows how important the March of Dimes mission is. “As an OB/GYN, I have delivered many healthy babies, but I also know that it doesn’t always happen that way and the results can be devastating,” said Dr. Wheeler. “Partnering with the March of Dimes helps me raise awareness and important funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects.”

    People are encouraged to sign up for March for babies at www.marchforbabies.org and start a team with co-workers, family or friends.

    About the March of Dimes

    For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited 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. The 2014 March for Babies is sponsored locally by Medica, Allina Health, HealthPartners, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Minnesota Monthly, Xfinity and CBS Radio. March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Macy’s, Famous Footwear, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Mission Pharmacal, Activis and United Airlines.

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