March for Babies raises money

Published 4:42 pm Saturday, April 28, 2012

Above, walkers line up to participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies on Saturday morning. The walk stepped off from Constant’s Wharf Park.

With ambassador Lane Russell and his parents leading the pack, more than 300 people set off on a course to helping prevent premature birth and birth defects on Saturday.

The 2012 March of Dimes March for Babies stepped off from Constant’s Wharf Park and wound through downtown neighborhoods. Families pushed strollers and walked dogs along the course.

“We really appreciate everybody pulling together,” said Bethanne Bradshaw, a local March of Dimes spokeswoman. “There’s a lot of teams and sponsors, and our schools always pull through.”

Launa Byrd, left, paints a small footprint onto Jamilla Ford’s face before the March of Dimes March for Babies on Saturday.

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Ambassador Lane Russell and his parents Anna and Jason Russell kicked off the march by cutting the ribbon and leading the crowd down the opening stretch. Lane was born 11 weeks premature on May 16.

When she went into labor early, Anna Russell was given shots to delay delivery, but they didn’t work. Lane stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for 51 days before his parents were able to take him home.

Now nearly a year old, Lane appears healthy and active. He wore a medal around his neck, smiled when his father picked him up and looked everywhere but at the camera when people tried to take his picture.

“You would never know that he was 11 weeks premature,” Anna Russell told the crowd before the march began.

Some of the techniques and treatments that helped Lane — and many other premature babies — survive and thrive were developed through research funded by the March of Dimes.

One such treatment, which involves apply artificial surfactant to a newborn’s lungs, helps the baby breathe better and helps prevent respiratory distress in underdeveloped lungs.

The March of Dimes was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help fund research for the polio vaccine. Once its original mission was accomplished, the organization shifted focus to preventing birth defects and infant mortality. During the last decade, the rising incidence of premature birth has led to greater action by the organization to fight premature birth.

For more information on the March of Dimes, visit www.marchofdimes.com.