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March of Dimes participants pound the pavement for healthy babies
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Loren Funk, chief operating officer at the Longstreet Clinic, speaks to guests Saturday before the March of Dimes’ March for Babies run and walk in Gainesville. Funk was also a chairperson for the event. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Turning pain into purpose was part of the March of Dimes’ goal at their March for Babies run and walk Saturday in downtown Gainesville.

Longstreet Clinic’s Loren Funk, chairman for this year’s event, spoke to the runners and walkers about his appreciation for them.

“It’s an important event for us,” Funk said. “What (the runners and walkers) are doing here makes a great impact ... on research and care.”

This year’s ambassador family, the Robinsons, walked at the front of the crowd.

“I didn’t know what being a preemie mom meant before,” said Tocoa Robinson, mother of premature baby Torie Robinson, who was born weighing only 1 pound. “You relive their birth every day.”

Tocoa told her story to the walkers and runners, including where she got their team name “Pound of Faith” from.

“(When Torie was born) that was faith. If you don’t have faith, that was faith,” Tocoa said. “She gave us hope.”

Tocoa thanked the nurses who helped her during Torie’s 82 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center had a team with their own T-shirts this year. Over 500 employees pre-registered for the event and additional people signed up Saturday.

“We are close to double what we were last year,” said Adrienne Haynes, the hospital team lead for the Labor and Delivery unit. Usually the count is closer to 250 to 275.

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