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March of Dimes fosters healthy pregnancies

April 27, 2013|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com
  • Participants in the 2013 March of Dimes March for Babies step off the starting line Saturday morning at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park.
By Joe Crocetta/Photographer

Terri Shoemaker had heard of March of Dimes. She knew a little about the organization, she said, but not enough to think about supporting it.

Then 20 years ago, her son, Kelton Miller, was born five weeks early.

“He was 6 and a half pounds. He had pneumonia and his lungs were not fully developed,” she said.

Miller spent three weeks in the hospital and was sick a lot his first two years, but he grew to be a healthy child. The experience awakened Shoemaker to the realities and risks of premature birth.

And she became aware of the efforts of the March of Dimes to support mothers to achieve full-term pregnancies and to have healthy babies. Ever since, Shoemaker, 39, of Hagerstown has volunteered to support the organization.

On Saturday, Shoemaker was there, along with her son, Kelton Miller, now 20, and her daughter, Chloe Kreit, 11, working at March for Babies 2013 at Fairgrounds Park.

Jessica Wagoner, Western Maryland Division director for the March of Dimes, said this year is the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes. Wagoner recounted the group’s early role in providing funding for research for a polio vaccine and its later campaign to promote folic acid for pregnant mothers. The group continues to work to raise awareness and find the causes of prematurity, she said, and to support families who have lost babies.

One mother who received such support is Diana Reyes, 32, of Hagerstown. Reyes, a fitness instructor, said her daughter, Tatiana, was born was Reyes was just six months pregnant due to an undetermined infection complication. Tatiana “fought for two hours,” Reyes said, before she passed away.

“March of Dimes has helped me a lot, in coping and dealing with the loss,” Reyes said. “They taught me how to go on with a new normal. It’s given me reason to come out here and fight for other babies.”

Wagoner said more than more than 700 walkers trekked the 4.4-mile course through Fairgrounds and Pangborn parks. She expected the event to raise around $121,000.

Ashley Seward of Hagerstown addressed the crowd, sharing her experience with March of Dimes. Doctors discovered Seward’s 1-year-old son, Easton, had just one kidney, and that that one was dilated, while he was in utero.

Following a difficult pregnancy with numerous complications, Easton was born at 32 weeks. He spent several weeks in the hospital, but eventually went home in stable health. Today, Ashley Seward said, he is “happy, healthy and developmentally on track.”

“If it wasn’t for the March of Dimes, we wouldn’t have had the resources available to make sure these preemies have the best chance of survival,” Ashley Seward said.

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