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How you can support March for Babies by walking at home or making a donation
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Jazmine Reed, 7, wears a "march for babies" cape before the start of the March of Dimes March for Babies event in Gainesville, on Saturday, April 21, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

Nine minutes after Devon Stoneburg of Flowery Branch learned that she had a life-threatening pregnancy complication, she was taken into surgery for a caesarean section.

Her baby Isla came into the world on Oct. 26, 2018, at only 2 pounds and 8.6 ounces. Her original due date was Jan. 9, 2019.

“She came at 29 weeks, and this was our first child,” Stoneburg said. “It was terrifying. We were not prepared for it.”

Before giving birth to Isla at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Stoneburg said she was diagnosed with preeclampsia, which involves having abnormally high blood pressure. The complication then led to HELLP syndrome, a variant of preeclampsia that includes liver failure.

While at the hospital, Stoneburg received a steroid injection in her thigh, which allowed Isla’s lungs to develop faster. If she had not taken the shot, she said her baby would’ve been put on a respirator.

The research that developed the injection was funded by the March of Dimes, Stoneburg said. 

Thanks to the care received at the neonatal intensive care unit and the efforts of March of Dimes, Isla is now a healthy and happy baby.

Stoneburg and her husband Andrew have partnered with March of Dimes in Hall County as this year’s ambassadors. 

“One thing about being March of Dimes ambassadors, is that we’ve met many families not as lucky as we are,” Stoneburg said. “We’re really blessed that she came out healthy and strong and fought her way out. It’s terrifying that so many children are born premature, and that so many mothers can have these conditions and complications and not understand why.”

Jeanine Jackson, chair of the Hall County March of Dimes and nurse practitioner at Longstreet Clinic Pediatrics, said this year people’s individual donations and contributions through March for Babies will go directly toward helping local mothers and families affected by the pandemic in addition to supporting research, advocacy and programs for those affected by preterm births.

Some of the support will include funding research for COVID-19 treatment that is safe and inclusive for pregnant and lactating women, and offering additional resources and training for doctors and nurses in the NICU and intensive care unit.

During the pandemic, Jackson said Hall’s March of Dimes partners have delivered care packages filled with gift cards, hand sanitizer and toiletry items for families with babies in the NICU.

“It’s a horribly stressful time for families,” Jackson said. 

Each year, March of Dimes has held nationwide March for Babies events to raise critical funds to support the health of mothers and babies. Because of the pandemic, the event has turned virtual and encourages people across the country to walk safely at home anytime until Friday, May 15.

Hall County’s March for Babies StepUp fundraiser aims to reach $82,000 in donations. As of Tuesday, May 12, $49,397 has been raised. 

To walk, bike or run in March of Dimes’ March for Babies StepUp! in Hall, visit marchforbabies.org/event/hall and click on “JOIN EVENT.” After registering, download the free Charity Miles app

Through the app people can request pledges from friends and family, which helps turn miles into money for the campaign. 

Those unable to walk, run or bike before Friday can still donate to the fundraiser by visiting  marchforbabies.org. Jackson said the nonprofit will continue to accept donations throughout the summer for the campaign.

The Hall event is presented by Longstreet Clinic with additional sponsorship from Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

People can view the Hall livestream from 1:30-2 p.m. Friday on March of Dimes Hall County’s Facebook page.

To honor donors and participants in March for Babies, the national nonprofit will hold a celebratory livestream from 2-3 p.m. Friday. People can find the event at Facebook.com/marchofdimes or Youtube.com/marchofdimes.

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