Family Team News

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ava’s Story

On July 25, 2008, Jim and Jennifer Robertson welcomed their daughter, Ava Angelina, into the world at 24 weeks gestation.  Ava weighed only 11 ounces. Ava was 9 inches in length.  Ava’s parents were told many times that Ava wouldn’t survive after birth.   However, God stepped in and made the seemingly impossible, possible.

During her first year of life, Ava battled a borderline grade 2 brain bleed, pneumonia, staph, fungal sepsis, liver complications, and an unidentified bowel problem, and at 15 ounces, Ava was the smallest baby to ever have PDA ligation heart surgery. 

Against all odds, Ava and her family celebrated her first birthday at Nationwide Children's Hospital.  Ava has since been able to come home, something her parents were told would never happen.  Ava is now a happy 3 year old but still has many obstacles to overcome.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Golf for Babies

Golf for Babies
Mount Vernon Country Club
Date:               Monday June 18, 2012
Location:        Mount Vernon Country Club
                        5111 Old Mill Rd
                        Alexandria, VA
                        Phone: 571-257-2314
Schedule:        12:00 pm Shotgun Start
With participants like Avison Young, Boston Properties, Kearney and Company, JBG Companies, DFS Construction, and HITT General Contracting to name a few, this would be a great opportunity to get involved with a great cause and network with some key players.

here to view Golf for Babies Photo Gallery on Facebook.

For more information on how you can participate, contact Nicole Johnson at (571) 257-2314 or

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dulles Greenway Drive for Charity

Take a Drive … Make a Difference!

The Seventh Annual Dulles Greenway Drive for Charity will be Thursday, May 17, 2012.

All proceeds from tolls collected that day will benefit local charities, including the March of Dimes. This year, the Dulles Greenway hopes to contribute $240,000. Please Drive For Charity on Thursday and help March of Dimes programs. 

Greenway helps March of Dimes put kids on road to health
By Jason S. Rufner

Julie's son Nathaniel is 12 years old.  He likes playing video games and is doing well in school.  He owns a toothy smile that beams out from under his mop of hair.

Nathaniel's smile might not be here if not for the March of Dimes' work with Inova Fairfax Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of which he is a graduate. Nathaniel was born four months premature, weighing one pound, twelve ounces.

Julie Kipers didn't know Nathaniel’s birth would necessitate a four-month NICU stay until the day before it began.  Now, after she and her family received myriad benefits from the infrastructure of support and comfort afforded by the March of Dimes, she has flipped roles, becoming a long-time volunteer on the Parent Advisory Committee.

"His medical conditions now are barely there. He looks and acts like an average kid," she said as happy shouts from the just-finished March For Babies Walk reverberated around Reston Town Center.

Julie related a story from that morning, when parents of a recent NICU graduate emphatically shook Nathaniel's hand, glad to see evidence that their own child can in fact transcend such harsh maladies.

"Parents need to know from other parents that they will get through it day by day," Julie said. "We've been learning how best to get the family through those times."

The Kipers family is an ideal example of what the March of Dimes' NICU Family Support Program can do for our area's families, thanks in part to the ample yearly financial donations generated by the Dulles Greenway.

Over 6,000 families have engaged in programs of comfort and support as a direct consequence of the Greenway's financial contributions, according to Shannon Gilbert, Chapter Director of the March of Dimes' Maryland-National Capital Area chapter.

In 2005, the local chapter sought to expand its Family Support Program to Inova Fairfax in light of the 12,000 births cared for each year in that facility.  That's when the Dulles Greenway -- already long-established as a benefactor for the March of Dimes -- stepped up its support.

The relationship between the Greenway and the March of Dimes' National Capital Area division is as old as the Greenway itself.  Since the privately owned toll road opened in 1995, the Greenway has continuously partnered with the chapter through outreach like the March For Babies.

Now, as a beneficiary of the Greenway's annual Drive For Charity since that campaign began seven years ago, the March of Dimes relies upon the substantial monetary outlay to fund the many facets of its NICU Family Support Program.

"This program would not be in existence without the Dulles Greenway," said Gilbert flatly. "The Greenway is what started it."

The program, now in its sixth year at Inova Fairfax and with a satellite program at Inova Loudoun, has proven to be a needful one.

"Whether your baby is going to be in the NICU for a few days or many months, it can be a very difficult time, universally," said Sara Donahue, a March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist.

"That's where we can come in and provide that extra support to make sure the family knows what's going on and what they need to know to make the best decisions and reduce the stress."

Education, information, bilingual services, staff training and nursing modules are a few of the many pillars in the structure of support and comfort provided by the NICU Family Support Program -- even down to the sense of normality that comes from piecing together baby's first scrapbook.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thank you Harford County March for Babies!

Thank you very much for your support of Harford County March for Babies. Despite the rain, wind and cold temps, we had a GREAT turnout of over 400 walkers! Thank you for believing in our mission to ensure someday all babies are born healthy.

 Check out our Facebook page for more photos:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Team Bischoff

Bringing a new born home from the hospital is usually an exciting and happy time.  Our family had a very different experience.
After delivering our first child in 2009, we marveled at how perfect she was.  Reagan was 6 weeks old when she started having seizures and was diagnosed with an extremely rare brain abnormality.  Her seizures escalated, and she needed brain surgery. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy with partial left sided paralysis.  We are thankful for the research the March of Dimes is doing with Cerebral Palsy in the hopes that it will help all children who struggle with this diagnosis. 
As you can imagine, we were nervous about having more children but were told we had no reason to worry.  We were very excited when we learned we were pregnant with twins.  After 3 months of bed rest, being separated from my husband and our 17 month old daughter, I delivered twins in October of 2010 at 25 weeks – a son named Cole and a daughter named Kendall.  Kendall was 1 lb. 7 oz. and unfortunately lived for just over a day.  Our son, affectionately referred to as Ironman, was 2 lbs. 2 oz. He went into cardiac arrest the day after he was born and suffered a brain bleed resulting in a diagnosis of hydrocephalus and requiring brain surgery twice.  Additionally, he needed eye surgery and will have lifelong vision issues.  We firmly believe the surfactant treatments he received gave his lungs the support he needed to survive.  A treatment available as a result of March of Dimes funded research.
The day I was discharged from the hospital, I was looking forward to being home with my husband and daughter but I was devastated to leave our baby behind, recovering from surgery, and exhausted thinking about planning a funeral.  As I packed my things to leave, our social worker knocked on the door to say goodbye and brought in a beautiful box with our daughter’s keepsakes.  I held her blanket as I reached for a beautiful scrapbook.  As I flipped through the pages, I was reminded how tiny her feet were, how beautiful her little hands were and how much I truly missed a baby I barely knew.  I often look through this box and look at her pictures when I want to feel closer to her.  I can guarantee that without the March of Dimes, I wouldn’t have had the energy or strength to put together that box or to scrapbook such a beautiful album that brings m closer to our baby girl.
Room 201 Bed 1 Medical Record 8334416 – those numbers will forever be engrained in my memory and became the passwords to see our baby boy.  Every day for 94 days we visited our son in the NICU.  A room with 25 beds lined with monitors, machines and noises you can’t imagine unless you’ve lived it. You sit next to the isolette for hours watching your baby breathe and hoping it will continue.  Some days just hoping for no change because that’s better than going backwards.  You learn a new vocabulary of medical terms that were part of our daily questions for the doctors.   
Our son, Cole wasn’t home for a first Halloween onesie, first Thanksgiving onesie, or a first Christmas onesie.  He had no clothes or blankets for what felt like forever.  But for every holiday, our son had a scrapbook page with his name, picture and other graphics decorating his isolette.  Some days it was the only color in the room.  Without the March of Dimes, the nurses wouldn’t have had the supplies to make a photo book or to print pictures to decorate his isolette.  It is amazing the happiness that something so simple can bring when day after day is filled with bad news.  I used to open our son’s isolette drawer hoping new pictures were in his photo book.  The first time he had food not TPN!  His first bath.  The first day he wore clothes.  All in a book for me to look at when we were having a tough week.  Keepsakes for both our children to better know Cole’s humble beginning and have something to remember their sister.  These are but a few examples of how the March of Dimes has impacted our family.
The March of Dimes made us feel like Colton was our son.  Not 8334416.  Not Room 201 Bed 1.  In a world where you struggle to figure out how to be a mom when you can’t hold or feed your baby or tell him it’s going to be ok, just being our son and not a number makes all the difference in the world.   We must keep these feelings alive to remind us how important this cause is for those who will come after us. So let’s not forget how important our individual contributions can be when we pool our efforts, energy and financial resources to make a difference.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What to expect the Day of March for Baby Event!

March for Babies Day is a fun-filled, family-oriented event. This is a day of celebration of all babies: those born healthy, those struggling to thrive and those who didn't go home. Below are a few frequently asked questions. Your team captain will receive a special e-mail from the March of Dimes with site-specific information.

1. What should walkers wear?
Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes (in layers to accommodate temperature changes), cotton or wool socks, and walking or tennis shoes.

2. What happens if it rains?
Toss an umbrella in the trunk of your car. March for Babies takes place rain or shine. If it rains and it would be dangerous to walk, the route will be shortened.

3. What time do I need to arrive?
Check-in and registration begins one hour before the walk. But if you've already turned in your money on Bank Day or did all of your fundraising online, come at least 30 minutes early to enjoy the stage program. Walk start times vary by site.

4. What do I do with my cash and check donations?
If you're walking with a team, ask your team captain about turning in cash and checks before walk day. If you're an individual walker, bring the monies with you to the walk or contact your local office for a special mailing address.

5. Can I bring my children in strollers?
The March of Babies wouldn't be a celebration without children and strollers. All of the routes are on stroller-friendly paths.

6. Are there checkpoints or snacks along the route?
There are checkpoints along the route that will provide rest, refreshments and information. Most will have water and some even have a snack.

7. Can I bring my dog?
March for Babies events are held at a variety of sites, including public parks and private property. If you are considering bringing man's best friend, please contact your local office for possible restrictions. Please consider the breed of your pet and that babies and small children will be at March for Babies.

8. Will there be children's activities at my walk site?
We encourage all walkers to bring their children to March for Babies. Children's activities, which vary by site, include face painting, games, bounce houses and the Fun Bus.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact your local March of Dimes office

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Place to Remember

We are so looking forward to seeing you at an upcoming March for Babies in Reston or Washington, D.C.  As always, we love seeing our families and listening to your stories.

 This year we are adding a few things to all of our walk sites, with larger productions in Reston and Washington, D.C.  In order to give our families who have experienced the loss of a baby some extra TLC, we are planning a special area called “a place to remember”.  This butterfly garden will be an area where families can gather to continue to remember that special little one who is with us only in spirit.  Please join us in this area and tag a butterfly for your little one(s). 

A place to remember will also provide resource material should you need it, have a private area for siblings to make a butterfly for a lost brother or sister or just relax a little and talk with our staff and other families.

If for some reason you cannot find “‘a place to remember”, please ask one of our staff in the mission booth and they will escort you to the area.

We are planning this activity rain or shine.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thank You Prince William Family Teams!


We would like to give a HUGE thank you to all of the wonderful family teams who were able to support the 2012 Prince William County March for Babies!  We had a record turnout of over 800 people who showed up to join with the millions of people across the nation who are marching for babies to help us reach a day when EVERY baby is born healthy.  You all made an enormous impact and we are closer to finding that day because of YOU.  THANK YOU!


Thank You Prince Georges Family Teams!


Dear Family Teams,

Thank you so much for coming out to March for Babies at Watkins Park! The event’s success is largely driven by our family teams. This is my first year organizing the walk and my heart was so moved when I saw all our family teams lined up at the start line. I especially enjoyed seeing our family come across the finish line with smiles on their faces. Thank you again, your involvement is helping us reach the day we dream of…the day when every baby is born healthy.

Thank you,

Lauren Stover