March for Babies

March champions superhero babies, families

By Dan Otis Smith | May 07, 2017
Photo by: Dan Otis Smith Participants in the March for Babies walk along Broadway in Rockland.

Rockland — Babies, their families and friends set out from Trackside Station May 7 for a 3-mile walk through Rockland for the March of Dimes' March for Babies.

The march is held annually throughout the country to raise awareness about premature birth as well as funds to support research that can help address and prevent it.

The "superhero" strength possessed by babies and families confronted with premature birth was on full display, with capes a popular choice and sightings reported of a fully-costumed Batman.

Janelle LoSciuto, senior development manager for March of Dimes Maine, said after the event the march showed just how healthy and capable babies born prematurely can become. "So many of these kids nobody thought had a chance," said LoSciuto.

"It's a good day to reflect and go back to that place," said Kristin Falla, whose sons have previously served as March for Babies ambassadors, adding it also shows families facing premature birth life can still be good and they are not alone.

LoSciuto said the expected haul from donations and sponsors was about $28,000. According to the march's website, the top fundraising team was Theo's Team, captained by Jason and Anita Witham, which raised more than $5,000.

"We are walking in memory of Theo, who was born too soon and too small," reads a "Why we walk" statement on the team's fundraising page. "We are walking in honor of the families who brought home healthy preemies from the hospital. Most importantly, we are walking to ensure that all babies are born healthy!"

Many marchers came with babies and young children who had been born prematurely, or in honor of those who did not live to see the march.

The Whitneys of Thomaston, 2017's ambassador family for the Midcoast March for Babies, were on hand with their children Jett, Jude and Sadie. Twins Jett and Jude were born prematurely in 2012 and are now healthy 5-year-olds.

“The money raised by March for Babies helps give more babies a fighting chance at a healthy start in life,” said LoSciuto in a press release. “The March of Dimes is committed to providing comfort and information to families like the Whitneys. By joining March for Babies, you also help fund cutting-edge research to find answers to the unknown causes of premature birth, and new ways to prevent and treat it.”

According to the release, about 380,000 babies – or one in 10 -- are born too soon in the United States each year. Premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is the leading cause of death of babies in the U.S. Those who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays. In addition to the human toll, premature birth accounts for more than $26 billion annually in medical and societal costs.

The March of Dimes helps provide research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs as well as support for mothers and babies. For resources and health information, visit marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org.

Sponsors for the 2017 Midcoast March for Babies included Hannaford, The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital, Spectrum Medical Group, Key Private Bank, Maine General Health, Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway, Emera Maine, WJBQ 97.9, Courier Publications, Trackside Station, O'Hara Corporation, Bean Maine Lobster and First National Bank.

Reporter Dan Otis Smith can be reached at 594-4401 x123 or by email at dsmith@villagesoup.com.

Kids take a moment to visit with Batman before the Superhero Sprint, part of the Midcoast March for Babies in Rockland May 7. From left are Madelyn Pease, Olivia Scholtz, Josh Scholtz (Batman), Dexter Falla, Clayton Fowlie IV, Amos Winters, and John Falla. (Courtesy of: Kristin Falla)
Ready, get set... (Courtesy of: Kristin Falla)
From left, Madelyn McCaffray, Max McCaffray, Amos Winters and Bodie Witham lead the pack. (Courtesy of: Kristin Falla)
Kids, many sporting capes, race down Rockland's boardwalk during the Superhero Sprint, part of the Midcoast March for Babies May 7. (Courtesy of: Kristin Falla)
Carol Colby and Dan Scofield participate in the March for Babies. Colby said they were marching in memory of a grandson born prematurely in 2012. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
At front, from left, Hunter Grindle and Melissa Burgess walk during the March for Babies. Grindle, who owns Hybrid Fitness gym in Thomaston, said they had joined a team organized by a gym member. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
14-month-old Cayden Bennett looks off while sitting in the crook of father Mark Bennett's arm. Cayden was also accompanied by, from left, his aunt, Mykayla McCormick and mother Molli Bennett. Cayden was born prematurely and is growing as a healthy, happy baby. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
At rear from left, Violet Coburn is held by mother Chelsey Coburn with Ashley Watts, Donna McCorrison and Alyssa Merrifield. In the carriage sit Merrifield's children Isabella and Bradley. The group marched in memory of Autumn Nichole, who was born prematurely in 1997. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Isabella Merrifield, in carriage, shares a moment with Ashley Watts. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
The Whitneys, the Midcoast March for Babies ambassador family, stop for a smile during the march May 7. From left are Jude, Ben, Jett, Amy and Sadie. Jude and Jett are healthy and growing twins born prematurely in 2012. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Some of the 16-member LAT team -- so named for the initials of Thompson children Lydia, Layna and Liam -- walk along Broadway in Rockland during the March for Babies May 7. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
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