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Walkers march to save babies

April 30, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - About 300 people joined Scooby-Doo in stretching exercises Sunday afternoon before taking the first steps in Chambersburg's WalkAmerica event.

Among them were Jessica Kriner, who pushed a stroller carrying her twin boys, Brock and Coal Carbaugh. Kriner walked while pregnant last year, not knowing that the March of Dimes would hit closer to home when her boys were born a month and a half prematurely.

"It was very scary, especially knowing they were your own," she said.

The twins, now almost 6 months old, slept under sunny skies Sunday with only acid reflux disease as a reminder of those early, troublesome weeks.

Kriner learned about neonatal units, monitors and tubes from family members who had also delivered premature babies. Together, the family team raised $800 for Sunday's March of Dimes walk.

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"Our family teams are our biggest supporters. We're really trying to focus on our family teams," said Hannah Gordon from March of Dimes in Harrisburg, Pa.

The family teams of three to 15 people generally had either lost a child or had a premature baby, Gordon said.

The event, which had a goal of $52,000, is an opportunity for those people to talk, share stories and support each other, she said.

For the fourth year, Tina Short talked with walkers about her daughter, Hannah LeaghAnn, who again served as the event's ambassador. Born eight weeks premature in November 2001, the child has had eight surgeries and is in her second year of preschool.

"She loves Barney, Bob the Builder and The Wiggles," Short said.

Short displayed tiny bottles that fed Hannah and the preemie Cabbage Patch Kids doll clothing that the child wore early in her life.

The family selected a Randy Travis song to kick off the walking.

A team of 15 from Schreiber Foods in Shippensburg, Pa., donned pink shirts for what became their fifth or sixth time at the event. Selling Yankee Candles as a fundraiser yielded $800 for the cause.

"We start out together and get at our own pace," team member Bonnie Fuller said.

Beth Smith walked with her 3-month-old son, David, and co-workers from J.C. Penney in Chambersburg Mall.

The team has been out for several years "just knowing it's going for a good cause," Smith said.

The 13 members raised money from customers, J.C. Penney promotions, friends and family, she said.

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