march for babies blog
The 2011 National Ambassador, Lauren Fleming, has been very busy so far this year! She visited 18 states and 46 cities since January 1 and she is only 7 years old. While she had a little time to rest she is already back in action. She attended the 105th Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. Anniversary Convention in Chicago, IL where her father Densel Fleming is a very prominent and respected member.
During the same week Lauren traveled to Los Angeles, CA and on Friday, June 24th she and her mother Nikki attended the Healthy Babies, Healthy Futures event, which honors individuals who have significantly impacted the African American community. This beautiful evening was hosted by one of the March of Dimes sponsors Farmers Insurance, and chaired by Faye W. McClure, the Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Farmers Insurance. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds performed and Garcelle Beavais and Hill Harper will host.
The following week Farmers Insurance again supported the March of Dimes by hosting Farmers Be A Hero for Babies day. The day began with a telethon and ended with a fun carnival full of delicious food trucks and activities for all to participate in. There was a car display of NASCAR driver Mark Martin and Go Country broadcast live from the event! Lauren had so much fun.
Thank you to Farmers Insurance for always being a hero for babies!
The 2011 National Ambassador, Lauren Fleming, and her family have had a very busy March for Babies season!
Since January the Flemings have been traveling all over the country thanks to the gracious sponsorship of United Airlines, the Official Sponsor of the 2011 National Ambassador program, to talk about the importance of getting involved in the March of Dimes Foundation.
Meetings with sponsors, team kick-offs, special events, and walking in March for Babies have kept this little 7 year old very busy!
This past weekend Lauren completed her March for Babies season at the largest March for Babies in the country in Houston, TX.
Follow Lauren in her travels, even after March for Babies is over at her blog: laurensstory.marchofdimes.com
Did you meet Lauren along her journey?
Kmart and the March of Dimes hosted the first-ever Babies on Broadway event Wednesday, April 20, to bring attention to March for Babies nationwide! This city walk kicked off in Times Square with a crowd of volunteers, supporters, Broadway stars and little babies drawing much attention in front of a 12 foot replica dime supplied by Kmart, March of Dimes National Sponsor and Top March for Babies team! The crowd then walked together downtown to the Kmart store at Herald Square. March of Dimes 2011 National Ambassador, Lauren Fleming, age 7, and her family helped lead a great day on Broadway!
In this photo taken by AP Images for Kmart, from left, Tony Award winner Gregory Jbara, “Rock Of Ages” star Angel Reed and her daughter Malena, and “Wonderland” star Kate Shindle pose with 2011 March of Dimes National Ambassador Lauren Fleming, front right, and her family, sister Erin, brother Corbin, mother Nikki and father Densel, and Kmart executive Natalie Norris-Howser and her son Vaughn at the “Babies for Broadway” event in New York’s Times Square, Wednesday, April 20, 2011. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Kmart)
Katie McGee, Entertainment and Traffic reporter for March for Babies media sponsor station CBS 2 in New York, helped lead the Babies on Broadway send off! The event brought together Kmart and March of Dimes supporters to raise awareness and donations for March of Dimes, which works to give all babies a healthy start.
For 28 years, Kmart has supported March of Dimes and raised more than $90 million – and counting! This success comes with thanks to Kmart’s generous associates and customers. The 12 foot dime will be rolling into select Kmart stores across the country – just in time for a March for Babies near you!
Lauren’s parents, Nikki and Densel, never imagined that their first child would be born 3½ 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 a 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 every day, but during the night if she needed comfort, I couldn’t just walk down to her room and hold her. Those are 5 months I will never get back.”
Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. More than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States each year, and those who survive often face lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. As a longtime March of Dimes volunteer, Densel knew that as African-Americans, he and Nikki were at 50 percent greater risk of having a premature child.
Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes says, “Infants born to African-American women have the highest prematurity rate of all racial groups. In 2008, the preterm birth rate for non-Hispanic African-American infants was 17.5 percent compared to 11.1 percent among non-Hispanic white infants and 12.3 percent for the nation. We are grateful to the Fleming family for helping the March of Dimes bring attention to this devastating problem.”
Lauren still has some health problems because of her early birth, but her family says she is doing great. She is a warm and loving child who makes friends easily and loves to dance, draw, create storybooks and read. The Flemings are grateful for the March of Dimes research and treatment that helped Lauren beat the odds and helped their other two children, Erin and Corbin, be born healthy.
As National Ambassador, Lauren will travel the country with her family to share her amazing story, help raise awareness of premature birth and encourage families and companies to walk with them in March for Babies® this spring. Densel says, “Knowing that my daughter benefited because I and thousands of other volunteers have been supporting the March of Dimes for years, is an unbelievable feeling. Nikki and I are thrilled now to be able to share our story on a national level and be able to ask others to give back in support of this organization that is working for stronger, healthier babies.”
The March of Dimes National Ambassador Program is an annual campaign, started in 1946, that puts a face on the March of Dimes mission. United Airlines will continue to serve as the official airline sponsor of the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program. United Airlines President and CEO, Jeff Smisek, said, “We are honored to be the official airline sponsor of the National Ambassador Program for the 6th consecutive year. This gives us the opportunity to support a family who has been through so much and is committed to giving back. We look forward to having Lauren and her family fly with United Airlines and we remain committed to fighting premature birth.”
To follow Lauren as she travels the country, visit Lauren’s blog at marchofdimes.com/laurensstory. And you can watch Lauren’s story below.