March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement™
March for Babies energizes people nationwide to unite, connect and fight for the health of every family. The U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth, especially for women and babies of color.
We can change that.
No matter who you are or where you live, you can choose how you want to join the movement and make a huge difference for families.
Take the Step Up Challenge. Set a fundraising goal, track your steps and invite friends and family to join—or compete with—you!
Sign up to create a unique DIY fundraiser to showcase your passion from a sports tournament or asking for donations to a bake sale, barbecue and everything in between!
Attend a March for Babies event near you to lift up communities for health equity, open the door for every mom to have access to care and protect the health of families through advocacy.
Register now to host your own community walk.
Together we'll fight to improve maternal and infant health, and ensure that every mom and baby gets the best possible start.Register now
why we march
Meet our families
MEET THE KANELLAKES
Dana and Chris Kanellakes had a long road in order to get pregnant—after their second IVF, they ended up with the twins and were excited. However, at their 20-week ultrasound, Dana found out that while the babies were fine, her cervix was shortening and the doctors weren't sure how long she’d be able to keep the babies in. Natalia and Christian were born 10 weeks early and weighed 3 pounds, 6 ounces and 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Christian was born unresponsive and had to resuscitated. They’re thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses in the NICU who helped them through this stressful time.
After 49 days in the NICU, Natalia was able to go home. “We were very nervous because she was still very little—she was only about 5 pounds when we brought her home,” Dana recalled. “We knew it would be difficult to have one there, one here, but we were also really excited that she could she could finally come home.”
Then, after 77 days in the NICU, Christian was able to go home. They thank March of Dimes and everyone involved for being able to take home two healthy babies, and today they raise funds every year for March for Babies. “It's just a great organization to be a part of and we always made the commitment after the kids were born that we want to give back,” said Chris. “We want to be able to tell the story for those people that hopefully don't have to go through it but if they do to know what's available to them.”
MEET THE RAQIBS
Mekka and Mukhtar were beyond excited when they found out they were pregnant with twin boys. Everything went smoothly until 22 weeks into Mekka’s pregnancy when she began to feel pain and couldn't walk.
Nasir and Said were born at 23 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 3 ounces and 1 pound, 7 ounces, and they were given a 10 percent chance survival rate. Said came home at five and a half months, but Mekka recalls it being bittersweet because Nasir was still in the NICU. “Then Nasir got really sick and we were told that he wouldn't make it. I told him, ‘We're so proud of you, thank you for fighting.’ And then they passed him to me and I felt him take his last breath.”
Mekka and her husband are thankful for March of Dimes NICU Family Support® and the Coordinator who provided them with the resources and education they needed during this difficult time. “March of Dimes was right there every step of the way when we were in the NICU,” said Mukhtar.
Today, Said is eight years old and in the third grade. He’s fun, loving and resilient. Mekka and Mukhtar find comfort in helping other moms and families in need. “That's how we keep Nasir’s name alive—by helping others and giving back,” said Mekka. “That’s what led us to be the advocates that we are today.”
MEET THE SPINAS
After two previously healthy pregnancies, Matt and Tiffany Spina assumed the third wouldn’t be different. However, they noticed that things were different soon after Tiffany was pregnant with Bria. “I started bleeding for absolutely no reason and I would have to rush to the emergency room to get an emergency ultrasound.”
Tiffany’s water broke at just 23 weeks. At the hospital, everything happened fast. “One of the nurses checked to see how things were and how dilated I was and immediately turned around to get a doctor,” remembered Tiffany. “Bria’s cord had prolapsed so her umbilical cord was being birthed already and her head was pressing on it. So, at that moment the nurse got onto the bed, held Bria's head and umbilical cord essentially inside of me and we started running through the hallways to the operating room.”
Bria was born at 23 weeks and 3 days, weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces. For 213 days, she was connected to machines that helped her fight to stay alive. After spending seven months and one day in the NICU, Bria was finally ready to come home and meet her big brother and sister. The effects of her early arrival linger to this day. Bria still receives care—she requires oxygen when sleeping and has a G-tube. Tiffany and Matt are thankful that March of Dimes was there to support their family throughout their entire NICU journey.
MEET THE SHOEMAKERS
After 12 months, Paul and Samantha Shoemaker were finally able to conceive. But one morning that relief turned to worry when Samantha sensed something was wrong. Her doctor sent her to triage where the doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat. At 26 weeks, Cy was stillborn.
“Nothing can prepare you for the idea of heading into the hospital to deliver a baby that has already passed away,” said Paul. A nurse guided them through the process of getting Cy’s footprints and handprints and being weighed and measured—"All those things that you want to be able to do, especially as a first-time parent,” Samantha said. “We got to spend time with him. We got to take pictures so we can remember what he looked like.”
The grief was crippling for a very long time. In September 2019, Paul and Samantha were expecting again. Though none of their family could be there with them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal was born healthy. Today, he’s spunky, curious and happy.
The Shoemakers created Cy’s Team for March for Babies, an event they feel strongly about and as a great way for friends and family to support them while honoring Cy’s short life. Paul said, “March of Dimes was helpful to open up about loss. People just came out of every corner of our lives sharing similar stories.” Samantha added: “I want others to support March of Dimes to give every mom and every baby the absolute best chance that they can have.”
MEET THE COCCOS
Things were going well when Kelly and Nick Cocco decided to have a third baby until at week 27 when Kelly got very sick and had a lot of pain. Her blood pressure was dangerously high—210 over 130. She was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, a pregnancy complication that affects the blood and liver, and immediately put on anti-seizure medication. When the baby had stopped growing, an emergency cesarean birth was needed to save both of their lives. Sidney was born 11 weeks too soon, weighing just 2 pounds, 1 ounce.
Kelly and Nick were thrown into a NICU experience where their tiny baby had to be intubated where Sidney remained for 73 days. But they weren’t alone. They had lots of support from their March of Dimes Family Support Coordinator as well as their NICU Family team who taught them how to care for their preemie.
Eventually Sidney graduated from the NICU and the Coccos brought her home with oxygen support for the first year. Today, she’s a happy, healthy five-year-old. Kelly believes supporting March of Dimes is critical to help those affected by prematurity and to fund research breakthroughs, including surfactant which helped Sidney’s lungs grow. Thanks to our many supporters, March of Dimes can be there for families like Sidney’s. Since her birth, the Coccos have been active in getting their message out by attending World Prematurity Day at the hospital every year and participating in March for Babies to give back to a community that supported them in their time of need.
MEET THE RAZZAK FAMILY
Pregnancy can be challenging at any time. Now imagine giving birth months too soon during the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 24, Alicia was diagnosed with coronavirus while pregnant. Then things went from bad to worse. She ended up being put on a ventilator and spent 41 days in the ICU.
After carrying her baby for nearly 32 weeks, Alicia delivered her son Laith while in a medically induced coma—nearly two months too early. And so their difficult journey to recovery began.
"We're all healthy now and doing better," says Alicia. "Without the incredible NICU staff and the contributions of March of Dimes, I don't know if we could have the same story today."
With your help, you can help moms and babies like Alicia and Laith and so many more.
meet the Kilgore Family
Dani Kilgore's journey to motherhood wasn’t picture perfect. In 2010 she experienced her first devastating miscarriage, but she was able to try again. In 2013, in excellent health, she became pregnant with a son, William Jr. However, at 28 weeks, she was rushed to surgery for an emergency C-section. William Jr. was born weighing just 15.3 ounces. Though he was a fighter, he just couldn’t survive.
After her son’s death, she experienced another miscarriage, but then in 2015 she and her husband learned they were pregnant. She was nervous, but took every precaution recommended by her doctors. On July 15, 2015, little Harper Avery Kilgore was born at 35 weeks. She has hearing loss as a result of her preterm birth. Her journey to grow her family didn’t stop there. After her daughter’s birth, she had two more miscarriages.
In 2020, after participating in the virtual March for Babies, Dani shared her journey on Facebook. She hopes her story will help others feel brave to share theirs because everyone’s story is valuable and spreads hope. As an African-American mom, Dani understand the statistics around the inequities in health care and the death rate of moms and babies of color. Her hope is that with March of Dimes she can raise awareness of these disparities and create change for all families.
With your help, you can help moms and babies like Dani and Harper Avery and so many more.
MEET THE MOSELEY FAMILY
Early in the pregnancy of her son, Adrian, Keelee Moseley sensed something might be wrong. She went for a checkup, but the doctor said everything was fine and normal. She insisted that he check her cervix.
And she was right. Keelee's cervix had dilated. She was sent home to wait for labor to progress. At only 21 weeks, she was told her son would most likely not survive. After making it through the night, Keelee was admitted to the hospital where she made it to 23 weeks. Adrian was born via emergency C-section, more than four months too soon. He weighed just 1 pound. Keelee went home, but in excessive pain and running a high fever, she returned to the ER.
She felt dismissed in triage and began to decline even more. Doctors finally realized Keelee had advanced Necrotizing Fasciitis, an aggressive flesh-eating disease, and she was rushed to emergency surgery. "Knowing that it was preventable was the hardest thing to grasp," Keelee recalled.
Keelee was in the hospital for 34 days; Adrian spent 144 days in the NICU. "March of Dimes has given us a space to grieve or to heal," said Keelee. "It gives me the encouragement there's an organization out there working towards creating a better experience for moms and babies.
Thank you for supporting March of Dimes and families like the Moseleys.
MEET THE CASEY FAMILY
Jennifer and her husband were thrilled and over the moon to learn they were having a baby. Then at 23 weeks, Jenifer began experiences complications with her pregnancy. It was determined that she was experiencing preterm labor contractions. Treatment helped hold off birth for a few days, but it was soon clear that she was in preterm labor. There was no stopping it anymore.
Isabelle was born at 23 weeks, more than four months too early. She weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces. Jennifer remembers thinking, "I just didn’t know babies that small could survive outside of the womb." Her parents could only watch her struggle to survive. Isabelle developed aggressive retinopathy. After two weeks in the NICU, Jenifer and Todd were able to hold her daughter for the first time.
After nearly five months in intensive care, Isabelle finally was able to come home. Today she's a happy, thriving, tenacious toddler. March of Dimes NICU Family Support team was there to guide Jennifer and Todd through there in families NICU journey. The program "provided us care and help when we needed it most," said Jennifer. "And we're incredibly grateful."
MEET THE ROLAND FAMILY
Jetaun and her husband's initial excitement of learning they were pregnant came to an abrupt halt at their very first prenatal appointment. Jetaun found out that she had a fibroid, which was blocking her birth canal. As the pregnancy progressed, she started to experience a lot of pain because the fibroid was getting larger. When the pain was too much to bear, she and her husband went to the hospital and their son, Owen Christopher Roland Jr., was born at 22 weeks of gestation. They watched him take two breaths and then pass away.
Jetaun learned about March of Dimes and the community of fellow families who share, comfort and support each other while participating in a March for Babies walk. "To be around women with the same experience was so powerful, and all of us felt so much support from one another," she says.
"What I would say to dads that are experiencing loss is, if you need to talk to somebody, it’s ok," says Owen, Sr. "There's nothing wrong with that."
Two years later, they were able to conceive again. They now have a two-year-old daughter named Olivia.
MEET LUKE LUBBERING
Too many families must endure the difficult and frightening experience of prematurity. In fact, every year, more than 380,000 babies are born preterm. Luke Lubbering and his identical twin brother, Logan, are two of those. Luke and Logan's mom was diagnosed with polyhydramnios, which led to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). TTTS is a rare disease of the placenta that only affects identical twins. Since twins share a placenta, what happens to one baby also affects the other.
Luke was born first weighing 2 pounds. His brother, Logan, was born one minute later weighing 10.9 ounces. During this time there was no medical equipment small enough to assist Logan. His parents were told that his lungs could explode if he was intubated. Logan lived for 1 hour and 23 minutes while Luke spent 66 days in the NICU fighting for his life.
Luke's now ten years old and since the day of his birth, he exhibits his strong will to live. He and his family have become very passionate for volunteering and fundraising for March of Dimes and March for Babies to show their gratitude for all of the years of scientific research, medical advancements and support for families everywhere.
MEET THE YANG FAMILY
Twins run in Christina’s family, so her husband Ted wasn’t surprised when two heartbeats showed up on an ultrasound during their first pregnancy. And then a third heartbeat appeared.
There were concerns right away from their doctor, as there are significant health risks in carrying three babies. She introduced the concept of reduction to them—a procedure to reduce the number of fetuses in a pregnancy—and that’s when they started researching preterm birth and getting nervous. They had several consults with another doctor who specialized in reductions, but they ultimately decided against it. They even visited the NICU to get a feel for what might happen to them, touring the same room they’d later be living in for months.
After experiencing adverse symptoms, Christina was placed on extreme bedrest at the hospital. The doctors tried everything to put off preterm labor, but around 24 weeks she started getting contractions. She started to exhibit signs of placenta previa, threatening the life of one of their babies, so they needed to deliver immediately.
Sophia, Raymond and Daniel were born at 24 weeks via C-section—13 weeks early. Things started to go downhill for Raymond, who was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and a grade 4 brain bleed. Ted and Christina made the very difficult decision to discontinue support.
Daniel and Sophia were fighters. Daniel was able to go home 3 months later, while Sophia had to stay on a vent and get a trach, unable to come home for 8 months. Now at age 12, they still deal with some developmental disabilities.
“This happens to way too many other dads,” said Ted. “But just hearing other stories is helpful.”
why we're fighting for healthy families
Every year in the U.S., approximately 360,000 babies are born preterm.
Without equitable access to health care, we can’t ensure healthy pregnancy outcomes for families.
Vital services for moms and babies— babies born sick or too soon—are needed now more than ever.