BALTIMORE — Christy and Bob Keppel, already parents to two daughters, Maddie and Tess, were excited about growing their family. However their third daughter, Amelia, arrived unexpectedly two months early, weighing just two pounds three ounces. She received multiple blood transfusions and faced persistent breathing issues while spending her first 63 days fighting for life in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Amelia began receiving early intervention services when she was six months old, and still needs intensive learning support in school due to severe processing and archiving issues.
The Keppel family will join thousands of families and local business leaders on May 7 at the Canton Crossing Waterfront parking lot for the 2017 March for Babies, the nation’s oldest fundraising walk, which helps more babies survive and thrive.
This year’s Baltimore family ambassador is 6th-grader Amelia Keppel.
Maryland Market Board Chair Jennifer Lewis-David is the will walk in memory of her best friend who was a neo-natologist.
“As an aunt, and in memory of my friend who devoted her life to babies, I am delighted to serve in this important role to raise awareness and urgently-needed funds for the March of Dimes mission to prevent birth defects and premature birth.”
On-site registration begins at 8 a.m., and the 4.5-mile walk kicking off at 9 a.m. Baltimore residents can sign up and find other walks in the area at: marchforbabies.org to start a team with co-workers, family or friends; or make a donation to help more babies get a healthy start in life.
“March for Babies is also a memorable and rewarding event for the whole family,” said Lewis-David. “We celebrate children and parents who [have] experienced the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) or special care nursery. We’ll recognize these families throughout the day with a Superhero Sprint for kids, complete with a purple cape, a symbolic lei for mom and dad and loads of fun in the kids’ zone. Additionally, the Chesapeake Steel Drum Band will be performing.”
“This year for the first time, participants will have the opportunity to walk through our
Memory Mile and visit our unforgettable March for Babies Memory Garden. Those who have experienced loss will find a meaningful way to remember their baby by placing a butterfly in the garden,” she said.
Premature birth is the leading cause of death among babies in the United States. It affects about 380,000 babies— that’s one in 10— born each year, including 7,373 in Maryland.
Funds raised by March for Babies in Baltimore support local programs such as group prenatal care with Centering Pregnancy; Stork’s Nest, a program focused on increasing the number of women who receive early and regular prenatal care; and NICU Family Support programs at local hospitals.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org.
If you, or anyone you know has been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit: shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit peristats.org. Find March of Dimes on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.