March for Babies supports families

Published 10:09 pm Friday, May 3, 2019

Hundreds of people listened to Meagan Jenkins share her story of giving birth to her daughter at 26 weeks as the March of Dimes March for Babies kicked off in Suffolk on April 27.

Jenkins and her husband, Adam, had a daughter, Aubrey, who was 4 at the time. But in April 2017, their daughter Avery came at 26 weeks.

They got involved in the March for Babies almost immediately.

“That year, my husband and our oldest daughter did the walk with the Sentara Obici women’s center ladies,” Jenkins said.

Thankfully, last year, Avery was able to join in along with the whole family.

“Last year, when Avery and I were able to, we created our own team and decided to walk,” Jenkins said. “We decided to do it again this year.”

Avery is doing well and just turned 2 years old on April 12, Jenkins said. “It’s almost like a birthday celebration,” Jenkins said of the March for Babies.

The Jenkinses were the ambassador family for this year’s fundraiser, which helps bring in money for research and advocacy to help prevent premature birth, birth defects and more.

“We’re just thankful for organizations like the March of Dimes that advocate for healthy moms and babies,” Meagan Jenkins said. “There needs to be more research done so we can have more success stories like ours — more happy endings.”

Another family participating at the walk was last year’s ambassador family, the Carreros. Stacie Carrero and her daughter, Elliana, were participating with a large contingent of family and friends in memory of her twins, Sophia and Jocelynn.

Stacie Carrero and her husband, both active-duty military, had been married only about a month and a half when they learned they were pregnant with the twins. Unfortunately, the twins were born at 23 weeks on Jan. 24, 2017. One of them died that day, and the other died two days later.

“March of Dimes is near and dear to us, because you never realize what part of a family you’re going to become until it happens to you,” Stacie Carrero said. “I remember coming home asking, ‘Where do I belong now?’”

She said the March of Dimes was helpful in a trying time for her family, and they have been faithful supporters ever since.

“It’s a great organization,” she said. “It’s a great family. The organization truly means it when they say it’s around the clock, 365 days a year. The research and the funding and them actually being there for you never stops.”

The April 27 event went from Constant’s Wharf and walked a scenic route throughout downtown.

Crystal Colohan, development manager for March of Dimes Eastern Virginia, said the event had a great turnout with more than 60 active teams who raised more than $47,000. The goal for the event was $70,000, and it’s not too late to turn in money to count toward this year’s total.

“I am in awe of how much the community came together to make it happen,” Colohan wrote in an email. “Suffolk Police, EMT and fire, and Parks and Rec were there making sure everything went smoothly with safety for our walkers.”

The event is heavily supported by teams from Suffolk Public Schools every year. This year, Hillpoint Elementary was the top-fundraising school and got to hold the banner at the start of the walk.

Ashleigh Hatfield, a co-chair for the event at Hillpoint along with Judy Flick, said the team held a sweetFrog fundraiser as well as a staff pageant to help bring in money.

“I’m a first-grade teacher, so I get them pretty young,” Hatfield said. “It supports us, too, to make sure they’re healthy when they get to us.”

Jennifer Logan was at the event to walk in memory of her niece, who was born prematurely and died at the age of 4.

“I think this organization is beautiful in terms of giving support where it’s most needed,” she said. “To see my sister-in-law go through that, and the community they built amongst the other parents, and seeing how those funds that are raised really help those families in need in terms of health care coverage or a place to stay, it really helps them move mountains. The last thing they should have to worry about is how to cover this expense or that.

“I want to be a part of that hope, and that’s why I’m here.”

Visit www.marchforbabies.org/EventInfo?EventID=20095 for more information on the Suffolk event or to make a donation.