march for babies blog
WASHINGTON, DC, MAY 1, 2014 – (From left) LaVerne Council, chair of the March of Dimes Board of Trustees; Jill Teeters, mom of March of Dimes 2014 National Ambassador Aidan Lamothe; Aidan, age 6; and David Lamothe, his dad, all of Manchester, NH; Tim Austin, Senior Vice President Retail Services-Kmart, Sears Holdings Corporation and 2014 National Chairman of March for Babies; and Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes, at the White House prior to a private meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office today.
These national volunteers represented the March of Dimes and the nearly 500,000 babies born prematurely each year. Their visit continues the March of Dimes 68-year tradition of National Ambassador visits to the White House. March of Dimes National Ambassadors have met with every U.S. President since President Harry S. Truman.
To learn more about our National Ambassador Aidan Lamothe, please visit our website.
Born 12 weeks early and weighing only 3 pounds, Aidan’s story begins like too many others. Watch his family explain his desire to give back and help other kids as the March of Dimes 2014 National Ambassador.
This is Aidan’s story.
The March of Dimes is thrilled to announce our 2014 National Ambassador, Aidan Lamothe! Born 12 weeks early, Aidan weighed just 3 lbs. and spent 7 weeks in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU). Even as a very young child, he understood how serious it is to be born prematurely and decided he wanted to volunteer to tell his story to help other kids.
He and his family visit the NICU every year on his birthday, to honor the doctors and nurses who saved his life. Aidan, and so many other premature babies, wouldn’t have survived without specialized treatment in the NICU, developed in part by research funded by the March of Dimes.
Today, Aidan is an adventurous 6-year-old who loves playing baseball, playing the piano, and doing gymnastics. He’s proud to serve as the 2014 National Ambassador and will travel the country with his parents to help raise funds and awareness of premature birth.
United is the Official Airline Sponsor of the Ambassador family – flying them across the nation to represent the March of Dimes and promote our mission.
Learn more about Aidan’s journey and join him – register for March for Babies today!
It has been a very exciting day for March of Dimes National Ambassador Nina Centofanti! She is in Dallas attending pre-race festivities for tomorrow’s running of the FedEx #11 March of Dimes car at Texas Motor Speedway. Dressed like a driver herself in a special FedEx team fire suit, Nina got to introduce herself to Danica Patrick! In support of March for Babies, Nina joined FedEx in asking fans to vote for their favorite March of Dimes paint scheme. Nearly 30,000 votes were cast and the winning design for this weekend’s “FedEx No. 11” car will debut this weekend! Watch it in action Saturday on FOX at 6:30 PM CST, and see the video below of the car being wrapped for the race!
Yesterday was an exciting day for our National Ambassador, Nina Centofanti! She traveled to DC with her family and was joined by Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes, and Bill Fitzgerald, Vice President and General Manager of GE Aviation. She toured the White House, saw the West Wing, and even met President Obama! It was a day this special 8-year-old girl will never forget.
Left to right: Julie Fronckowiak, Corporate Relations Manager; Dr. Howse; Ambassador parents Chris and Vince Centofanti with their children, Mia, Nick, and National Ambassador Nina Centofanti; and Bill Fitzgerald.
We wish our National Ambassador Nina Centofanti a very happy birthday today! Eight years ago Nina was born too soon and needed significant medical treatments to survive. Watch the video above to hear her family’s emotional and inspiring story.
Chris and Vince Centofanti thought they knew all about preterm birth. She was a neonatal nurse-practitioner caring for critically ill babies, and he worked for GE Healthcare’s Maternal-Infant Care division, providing specialized medical equipment to hospitals.
But then their own baby, Nina, was born nine weeks early, weighing less than three pounds. She suffered from respiratory distress and spent her first five weeks fighting for life in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
“I can’t tell you how difficult it was, seeing our own little girl lying in the NICU, fighting for life. All our hopes and dreams for her hung in the balance,” says Chris Centofanti. “As a nurse-practitioner I’ve seen many other parents in this situation, and now I know exactly how they feel.”
“I never expected that my own daughter would have to be cared for in a NICU with the equipment I had provided to the hospital,” says Vince Centofanti.
Chris adds, “Thanks to the care that Nina received, and the support of the March of Dimes for research and treatment, now we also know the relief and joy parents feel when their child survives and becomes healthy enough to leave the NICU and go home.”
Today Nina Centofanti has grown into an active 7-year-old who loves to dance, climb trees and turn handsprings. She has been named the March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador.
As ambassador, Nina and her family will travel the United States visiting public officials and corporate sponsors, and encouraging people to participate in the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser, March for Babies. The money raised supports community programs that help moms have healthy, full term pregnancies, and funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies’ lives.
“Serving as the National Ambassador family is a way for us to show our appreciation for our children’s good health, and serve as advocates for lifesaving March of Dimes programs,” says Vince. “The March of Dimes has provided 75 years of support for research, treatments, educational and prenatal care programs that has saved lives, reduced the suffering, and improved the quality of life for countless children and the parents who love them. My daughter Nina is one of their success stories; a perfect example of what March of Dimes efforts have accomplished.”
Nearly half a million babies in the U.S. are born too soon each year. Babies who survive an early birth often have breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and other lifelong problems. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.
The Centofantis have been dedicated March of Dimes volunteers for several years. In 2012, Vince joined more than 1000 colleagues at GE in Cincinnati to raise more than $240,000 for their March for Babies campaign.
“Even though Chris and I had experience in the NICU and working with the March of Dimes, nothing could have prepared us for having our own preemie,” Vince says.
While pregnant with Nina, Chris felt unwell at 31 weeks and went to the hospital. She was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a form of high blood pressure with elevated liver enzymes and a low blood platelet count. It is a rare, but potentially life-threatening illness that typically occurs late in pregnancy. The only treatment is to deliver the baby as soon as possible.
For the next 48 hours, Chris was treated with steroids to help develop baby Nina’s lungs before birth. At birth, Nina was immediately transferred to the NICU, where she spent the next five weeks.
In addition, the Centofantis have an older son Nick, and a second daughter, Mia, who was born at 35 weeks of pregnancy, thanks in part to weekly progesterone treatments which reduced the risk of Chris going into premature labor.
Thanks to United Airlines, official airline sponsor of the National Ambassador program, Nina and her family will travel the United States visiting public officials and corporate sponsors, and encouraging people to participate in the March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser, March for Babies. The money raised supports community programs that help moms have healthy, full term pregnancies, and funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies’ lives.
United Airlines is the official airline sponsor of the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program for the 8th consecutive year, and a National Sponsor of March of Dimes March for Babies. With an employee base of 85,000 strong, United is committed to making the communities it serves a priority, and is helping the March of Dimes reach hundreds of thousands of families with important information about having healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
Denny Hamlin and National Ambassador Kieran Wittstruck, age 6, with the Team FedEx’s #11 March for Babies car. (Photo credit:FedEx)
Racing driver Denny Hamlin and March of Dimes 2012 National Ambassador Kieran Wittstruck are teaming up at Texas Motor Speedway near Dallas this weekend to help “rev up” revenue and awareness for March for Babies! Team FedEx will be racing the branded #11 March for Babies car. Denny and Kieran took to the track in matching fire suits for a media blitz and time trials today – all to help promote March for Babies and get everyone to sign up for the walk! Cheer on FedEx and the #11 March for Babies car! Here’s a link to the news release for more details. Check your local listings for NASCAR race times and coverage.
March of Dimes 2012 National Ambassador Kieran Wittstuck (age 6) and 2011 National Ambassador Lauren Fleming (age 8 ) were joined by their families and Mr. Gary Dixon, member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees, for a private meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House yesterday.
These special volunteers represented the March of Dimes Foundation and the more than half a million babies born prematurely in the United States each year. This visit continues a 66-year tradition of bringing March of Dimes National Ambassadors to the White House. National Ambassadors have met with every U.S. President since President Harry S. Truman. Follow our National Ambassador’s March for Babies® season travels at Kieran’s Blog.
In photo: (Left to right) Gary Dixon of Dallas, Texas, member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees, was joined by the March of Dimes 2012 National Ambassador family (Shalini, Shane and Kieran Wittstruck of Seattle, Wash.) and the March of Dimes 2011 National Ambassador family (Nikki and Densel Fleming (holding son Corbin), Ambassador Lauren and her little sister Erin, of Charlotte, N.C.)
Photo Credit: March of Dimes
“My husband, Shane, and I never once thought of pregnancy as a life-or-death event,” Shalini Wittstruck recalls. “Then one day our lives and all our expectations changed.”
Their son, Kieran, was born at 31 weeks, weighing just 3 lbs., 1 oz. He spent the first months of his life in the newborn intensive care unit (NIUC), battling anemia, jaundice, apnea, bradycardia, a heart murmur and a brain cyst. With medical advances supported by the March of Dimes, Kieran pulled through.
Now 5 years old, Kieran still flips expectations on their head. Outside his home near Seattle, he likes to ride his bike and swim. He also is a budding mechanical engineer and is always working on his next great invention. And if that wasn’t enough, he even runs his own cat spy agency: MEOWS!
From his difficult start to the creative kindergartner he is today, Kieran’s story is a happy one. “We are thankful every day for how far he has come,” says Shane.
“I didn’t think premature birth could happen to me, but it did.” says Shalini, who has served as co-chair for the Cigna March for Babies (R) team in Seattle since 2007. “We need the March of Dimes to make sure it won’t happen to you.”
As the 2012 March of Dimes National Ambassador, Kieran will travel the country with his parents, sharing his story and raising awareness. You can see Kieran and his family on the set of Fox and Friends from a visit this week, and watch their story here:
Visit Kieran’s blog to keep up with his travels through the year at kieranstravels.marchofdimes.com.