Creekside supports March of Dimes

Published 9:34 pm Saturday, March 22, 2014

A teacher at Creekside Elementary School has a special reason to encourage students to get involved in raising money for the March of Dimes, which supports premature babies.

When Anna Russell, spearheading fundraising efforts at the North Suffolk school with bookkeeper Debbie Topping, gave birth to son Lane 11 weeks premature, he weighed just 3 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 17 inches long.

At Creekside Elementary School, bookkeeper Debbie Topping holds up a regular newborn’s onesie, while teacher Anna Russell holds up the one her son Lane wore after he was born premature. The school reportedly raised $4,000 last year and $5,000 in 2012 toward the March of Dimes, which supports preemies.

At Creekside Elementary School, bookkeeper Debbie Topping holds up a regular newborn’s onesie, while teacher Anna Russell holds up the one her son Lane wore after he was born premature. The school reportedly raised $4,000 last year and $5,000 in 2012 toward the March of Dimes, which supports preemies.

The tiny size is illustrated by two onesies inside a March of Dimes-themed display cabinet in Creekside’s front foyer; one, for a regular newborn, dwarfs the second garment, which was Lane’s.

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“We’d always been a supporter of March of Dimes, but, obviously, that became our charity of choice” after Lane came along, Russell said.

In 2012, Lane Russell, who turns 3 in May, was Suffolk’s ambassador for the March of Dimes’ March for Babies, which this year will be held at Constant’s Wharf on April 26 at 10 a.m., with registration beginning at 9 a.m.

Though he spent 51 days in the neonatal intensive-care unit before she and husband Jason Russell were able to bring him home, Anna Russell said Lane was doing “great” these days. “You would never know he was a preemie,” she said.

Creekside’s fundraising efforts include selling school mascot Gator T-shirts, with proceeds divided between March of Dimes and Relay for Life, which the school also supports in the fight against cancer.

Students are selling March of Dimes “squares,” with a competition between classes to see which can sell the most. (The squares are hung on the wall, and the winning class gets a “popsicle party.”)

The school plans to hold its own “March for Babies” on April 4. “This will be our third year,” Topping said.

Staff and students will pay $3 each to march, she said. They are encouraged to wear Creekside colors and will also receive a bracelet to wear.

“It’s fun,” Topping added. “They march around the building; they chant and they make posters.”

Meanwhile, faculty and staff, for four Fridays leading up to the March for Babies, can donate money for the privilege of wearing flip-flops, tennis shoes or Crocs to school. “They are not part of our regular dress code,” Topping explained.

Russell added a silent bake sale and a silent wreath sale to staff fundraising activities.

Every Christmas and on Lane’s birthday, the Russells visit the neonatal intensive-care unit at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, where he spent his first 51 days.

For more information on the March for Babies, visit www.marchofdimes.com/Virginia.