BEND, Ore. - Premature infancy occurs when a pregnancy lasts less than 37 weeks. The cause is often times unknown and out of the mother's control.
In Deschutes County, one in nine babies wind up in the neonatal intensive care unit because they're born too early.
Hundreds of people walked in celebration Saturday of the many success stories that have come out of the St. Charles neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the March of Dimes' annual March for Babies at Riverbend Park.
One member of the NICU staff spoke with us about the walk and what she hopes comes out of it.
"For me, working in the NICU and seeing families day in and day out when I go to work about what prematurity has an effect on families -- it's such an honor to come out and I'm so thankful for everyone that's come to volunteer and that's here to walk and celebrate," Sara Mosher said.
The mission of Saturday's walk was to work toward one day when all babies will be born healthy.
Last year, the March of Dimes raised about $56,000 in just three months. After participants walked up a good appetite, they got to dive in to some free BBQ.
Here's the March of Dimes' report on Saturday's successful event:
t was the best feel-good moment of the week in Bend when approximately 250 residents joined together in support of the smallest members of the community --babies -- by participating in the 2014 March for Babies to benefit March of Dimes.
Riverbend Park was packed with strollers, families and corporate teams who raised more than $45,000 to help babies be born healthy. New at the walk this year was a Home Depot Kids' Clinic. Throughout Oregon and SW Washington, nine walks Saturday raised a total of $910,000.
"We've seen today how important the health of moms and babies are to the people of Bend," said Barb Cardinale, VP & Senior Relationship Manager at KeyBank and Greater Oregon March of Dimes Board Chair. "I'm so proud to be part of a community of people coming together for such a great cause. Helping our babies should be a top priority, and we're excited about what we've accomplished here today."
"It was a memorable and rewarding day for all of us," said Bonnie Parrot, whose daughter was born too soon. "When Lyla was born nearly 4 months premature, we decided we wanted to do everything possible to help spare other families from the trauma we experienced. We're honored to represent March of Dimes today in return for all they've done to help babies like ours."
In an average week in Oregon, 876 babies are born -- and 80 (9.1%) of them are preterm. Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death and can result in lifelong complications such as vision and hearing problems and neurological disabilities.
Money raised by March for Babies funds prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) family support programs and advocacy efforts for stronger, healthier babies.
--March for Babies National Facts--
More than seven million people take part in the event
Since 1970, March of Dimes has raised over $2 billion to benefit moms and babies
More than 900 communities take place in the walk across the country
For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects at marchforbabies.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Locally March for Babies is sponsored by First Tech Federal Credit Union, Big 5, PacificSource Health Plans, St. Charles Medical Center, MODA Health, LifeWise, SELCO Community Credit Union, Wal-greens and Horizon Broadcasting. The 2014 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by March of Dimes' number one corporate supporter Kmart, Macy's, Famous Footwear, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Mission Pharmacal, Actavis and United Airlines.