Approximately 200 residents joined together May 19 in support of the smallest citizens of Rockland — babies — by participating in the 2013 March for Babies to benefit the March of Dimes.

The Rockland Elks Lodge was packed with strollers, families and corporate teams who raised more than $27,000 to help babies be born healthy.

Special guests at the day’s events included Amanda Hernandez and her son Damari Zelee, the 2013 Rockland Ambassador Family. Company teams from Hannaford, Little Learner’s Childcare, Coastal Childcare, and media sponsor, The Courier-Gazette joined with area family teams to make a difference in the lives of Maine babies.

‘We’ve seen today how important the health of moms and babies are to the people of Rockland,” said 2013 March for Babies committee member and new mother, Keely Baum.

“I’m so proud to be part of a community where people come together for such a great cause. Helping our babies should be a top priority, and we’re excited about what we’ve accomplished here today,”said Baum.

“It was a memorable and rewarding day for all of us,” said Hernandez. “When Damari was born at 25 weeks, I decided I wanted to do everything possible to give other families a happy result.  We’re honored to represent the March of Dimes today in return for all the support they’ve given us and our family.”

Money raised by the event funds research at Jackson Laboratory, education across the state, NICU family support, and local community grants for programs such as Centering Pregnancy.

Premature birth is the most urgent infant health problem in the United States today. It affects more than half million babies each year. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have lifelong disabilities. The March of Dimes is committed to reducing this toll by funding research to find the answers to premature birth and providing comfort and information to affected families.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

The 2013 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Macy’s, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Famous Footwear, Actavis, Mission Pharmacal, and United Airlines.

For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org or find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.