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    March of Dimes National Ambassadors to speak at the 10th Annual African American Achievement Award

    Amanda Dupre, March of Dimes, (803) 403-8525, adupre@marchofdimes.com

    Columbia, South Carolina, October 17, 2012 —

    The March of Dimes South Carolina Chapter is pleased to announce that the 2011 National March for Babies Ambassador Family; Densel and Nikki (Francis) Fleming will speak at the 2012 African American Achievement Award. Nikki Fleming is a Columbia native and is looking forward to speaking in her home town.

    The event will honor Dr. and Mrs. Burnett Gallman and Ms. Diane Sumpter for their outstanding community service and contributions to the African American community of South Carolina. The 10th annual breakfast will be held on Tuesday, November 13 at the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center.

    The African American Achievement Award was established in 2003 by the South Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes to bring awareness to racial disparities in infant health and to recognize the commitment of those positively impacting the African American community. Infant mortality rates are twice as high for African American babies as for Caucasian babies. In addition to this, African American babies are nearly twice as likely to be born prematurely as Caucasian babies and African American mothers have the highest rates of inadequate prenatal care compared to other maternal race categories. 

    The Fleming family’s seven-year-old daughter Lauren spent the first five months of her life struggling to survive in a hospital newborn intensive care unit (NICU). She is is now a thriving 3rd grader, but Nikki and Densel never imagined that their first child would be born 3 ½ months early and weighing only 2 pounds, 1 ounce.  They watched and waited while Lauren was treated in the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. for respiratory distress and underwent multiple surgeries related to a damaged vocal cord and heart defect.  Nikki says, “Not having our baby girl home for the first 5 months of her life was agonizing.  We visited her in the hospital everyday, but during the night if she needed comfort, I couldn’t just walk down to her room and hold her.  Those are five months I will never get back.” 

    The Flemings served as national ambassadors for the March of Dimes in 2011, visiting March of Dimes events in communities across the country to share the story of their family’s journey after having a premature baby. They currently reside in Marvin, North Carolina.

    Infant mortality rates are twice as high for African American babies as for Caucasian babies.  In addition to this, African American babies are nearly twice as likely to be born prematurely as Caucasian babies and African American mothers have the highest rates of inadequate prenatal care compared to other maternal race categories.  The African American Achievement Award was established in 2003 by the South Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes to bring awareness to these racial disparities and to recognize the commitment of those positively impacting the African American community.

                Tickets are currently on sale for the 10th annual African American Achievement Award Breakfast; please go to the South Carolina March of Dimes website to purchase your ticket or to make a donation to the mission of the March of Dimes.

                The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, 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.

                                        

                                        The Fleming Family visits the White House in 2011

     

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