Fairfield March for Babies May 1 at Jennings Beach

On Sunday, May 1 at Jennings Beach in Fairfield, hundreds of families and business leaders will join together for March for Babies — the March of Dimes walk honoring babies born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive. Funds raised help support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit family support programs and advocacy efforts for stronger, healthier babies.

Leading the festivities will be the event’s 2016 Ambassadors, Heath and Alyssa Kent, along with their two children, Virginia, 4 years old, and Henry, eight months. They will share their family’s prematurity journey, thank walkers for their commitment to the March of Dimes mission to give all babies a healthy start, and lead the walk with their team, “Go Ginny Go.” Since their first walk in 2012, their March for Babies team has raised nearly $43,000.

In October 2011, Health and Alyssa were looking forward to the February birth of their daughter. But during a routine appointment at just 21 weeks, Alyssa was diagnosed with cervical incompetency and was already dilated. She was put on home bed rest and then a week later was admitted to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, where she could be monitored on strict bed rest. After four weeks, at just 25 weeks gestation, Virginia was delivered and weighed just 1 lb. 7 oz.

Virginia faced severe lung, heart, kidney and eye complications and had a very difficult time learning how to drink from a bottle. She remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for 124 days before coming home.

“We know that Virginia is healthier and we had more support because another family walked before us. We see supporting March for Babies as our opportunity and pleasure to pay it forward in any way we can so that another baby can be healthier and another family more knowledgeable and supported,” said Alyssa.

Each year in Connecticut more than 36,000 babies are born. 1 in 10 babies are born too soon, and 1 in 7 infant deaths is attributed to a birth defect, and nearly 200 babies die before reaching their first birthday. The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality through research, education, advocacy and community programs.

Families at March for Babies will enjoy activities such as Home Depot’s building kits for kids, a bounce house, face painting, and live music from local band, Just Off Madison. Walkers can also purchase cuisine and beverages from food trucks including Bodega, Melt Mobile, Micalizzi’s and Firehouse Grill. Festivities will be emceed by Gillian Neff of News12 Connecticut.

Jennings Beach is located at 880 South Benson Road in Fairfield. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the event at 11 a.m. To register visit marchforbabies.org/event/fairfield. Participants can also register on-site on May 1. All walkers who raise $100 or more will receive an event t-shirt and those raising $250 or more will have the choice of a March of Dimes branded item (among other incentives as fundraising increases).

Fairfield March for Babies is supported by Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Survey Sampling International, News12 Connecticut and Lamar.

For more than 78 years, moms and babies have benefitted from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at marchforbabies.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. The 2016 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter, Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna, United Airlines and Mission Pharmacal.

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