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?
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.
At a special screening of the new film BABIES, March of Dimes mom and celebrity volunteer, Julie Bowen (left to right), the March of Dimes 2010 National Ambassador Joshua Hoffman, accept a check from David Brooks, president of marketing with Focus Features Films. The donation is part of a nationwide partnership between March of Dimes March for Babies and the new film BABIES which releases this weekend in time for Mother’s Day. The special screening was held in Beverly Hills, with the Los Angeles March of Dimes.
Several March of Dimes celebrity mom volunteers came out in support of the March of Dimes at the screening of the new documentary film, BABIES that was held at the Clarity Theater in Beverly Hills. Pictured (left to right) are actresses Kellie Martin, and Julie Bowen, both March of Dimes Celebrity Volunteers; and David Brooks, president of Marketing, Focus Features Films.
Two families who know all too well the trauma of having a baby born prematurely visited the White House today to share their inspiring stories with President Obama. The Hall family from Leesburg, Va., and the Hoffman family from Weston, Fla., are ambassadors for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit foundation that works to prevent premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality.
“These brave families told the President that premature birth can happen to anyone, and when it does happen, it exacts a huge toll emotionally, physically and financially on families and the country,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “We need to invest more federal funding in research that will stop the rising incidence of preterm birth.”
Joined by LaVerne Council, secretary of the March of Dimes board of trustees and corporate vice president and chief information officer of Johnson & Johnson, the March of Dimes delegation also spoke with the President about how preterm births illustrate how critical it is for every pregnant woman and child to have access to health coverage.
Six-year old Katelyn Hall was born at only 25 weeks and was given a 5 percent chance of surviving. After a 5-month stay in newborn intensive care (NICU) and more than $1 million in medical bills, Katelyn’s parents Ashley and Michael were finally able to bring her home.
Joshua Hoffman, 7, of Weston, Florida, the March of Dimes 2010 National Ambassador, was born so early and with so many underdeveloped organs that doctors could not say whether he would survive — or if he would ever walk, talk, see or hear.
Josh spent 3½ months in the NICU and had many surgeries and treatments, including heart surgery, laser eye surgery and blood transfusions.
Premature birth has increased more than 36 percent in the last 25 years in the United States, and now affects 540,000 babies annually. It is the leading cause of newborn death and costs the nation more than $26 billion annually in health care costs, according to the Institute of Medicine.
The Hall and Hoffman families traveled to Washington courtesy of Continental Airlines, the official airline sponsor of the National Ambassador Program “Serving the March of Dimes and our community in this capacity is an honor,” said Jeff Smisek, Continental Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.