Why I walk every year to raise money for the March of Dimes

2011 is the sixth year that I’m walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. I’ve gotten a very late start this year due to the Makena controversy, which left the March of Dimes scrambling to return to their values after a bad decision that shook my confidence in the organization. I’ve written quite a bit about the role of the March of Dimes in the Makena controversy.

In the end, though, after a number of communications with the March of Dimes Senior VP for Strategic Marketing & Communications, I think that they are back on track, and I don’t know that there’s another organization out there that provides as much support for research and development of ways to reduce prematurity and treat complications in those who are born too soon. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching closely to make sure that there are no further major gaffes, but I think that continuing my support (while maintaining scrutiny) at this time is the most productive direction for my fundraising.

So why do I walk?

I walk for my two sons, one who made it and one who didn’t. I walk so that other people won’t have to go through what we’ve gone through.

Benjamin was born at a “women’s hospital” that had no clue how to handle our premature labor situation and did not seek to transfer my wife to a larger hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). They were so unaware that they didn’t even have a way to communicate our loss to the staff at the nurses’ station outside the LDR room, who wished us “congratulations” as my wife was wheeled out. They looked stunned when I replied “no” to them. Benjamin was born at 22 weeks gestation weighing less than a pound. He lived for five minutes. He would’ve turned eighteen last October. There’s still a hole in my heart from losing him that will never go away.

The hospital has undergone a management change since then, and now reportedly does have a serviceable NICU. I’d like to think that our experience there had some influence on that improvement.

My second son (“The Kid”) was born at a hospital well-versed in caring for moms going into labor prematurely and babies born way too soon. My wife was admitted and under direct care for weeks before delivery. Medications whose development was supported by March of Dimes were administered during that time to help The Kid’s lungs develop. When he was born, at 28 weeks gestation, he weighed 2 pounds, 1.4 ounces, and went to the NICU. More medications supported by the March of Dimes helped him survive and develop. He didn’t leave the hospital for 10 ½ weeks, and had to go back the next week for minor surgery. He came home on a heart monitor, which he wore until he was six months old, and we’ve had to watch his health closely ever since.

The Kid is now 12 years old and is a caring, intelligent, talented and charismatic kid, thanks in part to the March of Dimes (and the great staff at St. Peter’s Hospital). He’s not only academically gifted, but he’s also quite talented at dancing, playing musical instruments, writing music, acting and performing arts in general. He wants to design theme parks when he grows up, and I don’t doubt that he’ll do it.

But my sons are only two of the millions of stories to be told about premature babies. Thousands are born every day. Some are lucky, like The Kid. Some are not. Many who survive still suffer from many medical conditions and need a great deal of help to live what even approximates normal lives.

I walk for the March of Dimes because I want to help prevent premature births, and to help support cures and care for the afflictions of those that are born prematurely. Parents should take their children home from the hospital, not to the cemetery. And when they get them home, they should be able to live without lingering medical conditions.

Every year, I am dumbfounded by the support from my friends, family, co-workers, and (especially) my MousePlanet family. The people who read the stories I write and listen to the podcasts I record have been stupendously generous in supporting my fundraising to support this cause.

Last year, thanks to your contributions, I was a top walker in Northeastern New York for the third year in a row. More than one-third of that money came from donations of $50 or less. Nearly one-quarter came from donations of $25 or less.

Every dollar counts. Please give generously, and help the March of Dimes to give every baby a fighting chance. Go to my fundraising page and support this worthy cause.

Thank you so much for your support.

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