Why We Walk
Preliminary 2013 data shows that 13% of all Florida births are preterm. That is 27,684 babies.
1 in 9 babies is born preterm. In more than half of the cases, we don't know why.
Some will not survive. Of those who do, more than 1 in 4 will suffer lifelong health problems as a result of their preterm birth, including cerebral palsy, blindness and respiratory difficulties.
In an average week in Florida 549 babies are born preterm (less than 37 weeks) and 359 babies are born with low birthweights (less than 5.5 lbs).
Racial disparity exists in preterm births: Non- Hispanic White: 11.2%, Hispanic: 12% and Non-Hispanic Black: 17.1%
After 28 years and a 33% rise in the rate of premature birth in the U.S., we have acheived a 15-year low of 11.54%. We are making a difference!
On May 25th, 2009, my life changed forever when my daughter, Annabelle Rose Ribuffo, was born too soon at only 27 weeks due to a very complicated pregnancy. She weighed in at only 2 pounds 3 ounces. As a result of her prematurity, she faced many obstacles while in the NICU. The experience was a complete roller coaster. She was so fragile and was hanging on for dear life.
“You really don’t think it can happen to you, but I soon realized that no one is immune.”
We found out that Annabelle had a grade IV brain bleed when she was only a few days old, which can happen to premature babies and can be completely devastating. No parent wants to hear that news. What many people do not truly realize is how weak and immature their little bodies are. Annabelle was flown to Miami Children’s Hospital via Lifeflight at a month old. Over the course of her life, she had a heart surgery (PDA ligation), 4 brain surgeries due to complications from her brain bleed, and an eye surgery. She was a truly a fighter, but in the end she could hold on no longer and passed away on November 1, 2009. She was only 5 months old.
This experience taught me so much, and I saw so many babies suffer due to their prematurity. But, I also saw many babies go home. We need to come together and do all that we can to make sure that all babies are born healthy.
I was 28 weeks pregnant when I went to my regularly scheduled check-up appointment only to find out I was actually in labor. With no idea why I had gone into premature labor, Carter was born weighing only 3 pounds, 9 ounces and what should have been one of the happiest days of my life became one of the scariest. Carter needed a ventilator to breathe, a warming bed to regulate his temperature and a feeding tube for nourishment.
Carter spent 70 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Shands Hospital where he went through many ups and downs.
"Thanks to Surfactant Therapy, a treatment discovered by March of Dimes funded research, he was breathing on his own in less than a month."
It was a treatment that probably saved Carter’s life. Our family had no idea that on the day our first son was born, the March of Dimes would play such a huge role in saving his life and helping us get through our time at the hospital. We thank the March of Dimes and the volunteers who fundraise for everything they have done in the past, for everything they are doing now, and for all they will do in the future.
Former Walk Chair
Nancy and I are continuously amazed at the generosity of University of Florida students. It can be seen in a multitude of areas, and certainly in the hard work and fundraising efforts done on behalf of the next generation of Gator babies.
When we visited Shands Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we saw first-hand how hard these babies are fighting to live.
"We held a baby so small that my Football National Championship ring fit all the way up his arm."
Baby Austin spent over 7 months in the NICU and had countless surgeries. He is alive today because of the fundraising done by volunteers in the past.
Join Nancy and me as we work towards the future and fundraise for the next generation of Gator babies. Register, raise money, and walk with us in 2013. Together we are taking the next steps to end premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.
In the nearly six years since I started working with the March of Dimes, I have made friends, gone on trips, karaoke-d, stayed up for 40 hours straight, assembled a stage, won a free apartment and more. I have pounded the pavements looking to meet my $3,000 fundraising goal $5 at a time. I have seen babies with tubes connected to every inch of their paper thin skin, and I have also seen them grow into healthy toddlers and children who run and play with their friends like nothing ever happened.
"Through my wonderful journey with the March of Dimes I have done many things, but none more important than helping thousands of babies through my volunteering and fundraising."
This year, I renewed my commitment to the March of Dimes through Gators March for Babies. I pursued the top fundraising spot, and achieved my goal earning $2,300 for the March of Dimes. In return, I received a 12-month lease for a 3-bedroom apartment from the Collier Companies and Boardwalk Apartment Homes. I adore my apartment and over the next year I will save almost $8,000, about the same amount that I have fundraised over my time with MOD. Turns out, giving really does pay off!