Little Lives Bring a Community Together
By Caroline Zamora Photos by Polo Orta and courtesy of March of Dimes
After contracting the Polio virus and losing the use of his legs (Staff, 2009), President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) with the goal of ending Polio (Rose, 2010). Through a nationwide campaign the President asked the nation to give back. On January 3, 1938 actor Eddie Cantor asked radio stations to dedicate time to what he called the “March of Dimes” and ask the American people to send the President one dime or what they could spare (Eddie Cantor and the orgin of the March of Dimes, n.d.). By January 30th, 2,680,000 dimes or $268,000 had been sent to the White House. Later Dr. Jonas Salk, who received a March of Dimes grant, conducted a massive field study on 1.8 million schoolchildren (Staff, 2009). With extraordinary results, in 1955 the vaccine was licensed and from that point on the number of polio cases dropped dramatically.
Most organizations set large and impossible goals to accomplish, like ending wide spread diseases. Incredibly, the March of Dimes met their goal. So, what was next? In 1958, the March of Dimes announced their new mission to end and prevent birth defects (Rose, 2010). Later the March of Dimes created WalkAmerica, that would later be called March for Babies, providing funding at research centers throughout the country.
Many children and families know the effects of premature births all too well. Walter Adkins is a two-year-old little boy who enjoys cars, dinosaurs, and spending time with his family. Walter’s mom, Jessica Adkins, developed preeclampsia at 30 weeks into her pregnancy. While being treated at the hospital, Walter and Jessica were given steroid shots and Walter developed in utero for an additional week. This was critical time for Walter’s lungs to develop. Born at 31 weeks and 5 days, Walter weighed 2 pounds 8 ounces. He spent 46 days in the NICU, where he received in utero steroid therapy, in utero magnesium therapy, blood pressure medication, blood transfusions, spinal tap, kangaroo care, and oxygen therapy. Today, Walter is thriving.
Ryder Plante is a three-year-old little boy, who according to his mom, Camille, is “100% into superheroes.” Leading up to Ryders birth, Camille’s pregnancy was normal. Through an ultrasound, they discovered a mass but the doctors were not alarmed and Camille and her husband Dustin were sent home where Camille would be on bed rest. Within an hour of being home Camille began bleeding heavily and they returned to the hospital. Ryder and Camille would have to be transported to Las Palmas in El Paso. The best option would be to transport Ryder while still inside of Camille, but fearing they may lose both Ryder and Camille in the transport, doctors decided to perform a cesarean section. Ryder was born at 23 weeks and 2 days, and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. While in the NICU Ryder was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a Stage 2 Brain Bleed, and underwent surgery to repair three hernias, and received countless medical interventions. After 178 days in the NICU, Ryder went home. Recently he graduated from early intervention services with Aprendamos Intervention Team and is a beautiful little boy, flourishing with curiosity.
Through research funded by the March of Dimes, Walter and Ryder will have the chance to grow up happy and healthy. Our local March of Dimes Chapter has hosted the March for Babies for over a decade. Thousands of walkers, families, children, and community partners participate in the event. This year, on April 29, 2017, at Albert Johnson Park, the March for Babies will be held again.
Each year an Executive Leadership Team is assembled to bring local businesses together for the event. The 2017 Executive Leadership Team is being Co-Chaired by Able Covarrubias, CEO of Aprendamos Intervention Team and myself, Caroline Zamora, Public Relations Coordinator of Aprendamos Intervention Team.
Each person and organization is volunteering their time and resources to raise funds for the March of Dimes. They are bringing awareness to their employees and community. Some, like Eddie Zepeda and Jonathan Campos of PrimeCare Orthotics and Prosthetics treat children and adults who are affected by birth defects or experienced complications from prematurity.
There are also people like Jonah Garcia with La Clinica de Familia Healthy Start, and Nydia Del Rio, from Ben Archer Health Clinic who see the importance of early intervention services and home visiting programs for children and families. We are also very lucky to have Steven Ontiveros and Karen Provencio with the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine who will be connecting future physicians with community initiatives like the March for Babies. Both Jamie Michael, Doña Ana County Director of Health and Human Services and Kasandra Gandara, City Council Women are excited about bring more awareness and educational opportunities about the March of Dimes.
People who may not have a personal connection to the mission of the March of Dimes but see the value of bring our community together to help one another are abundant on the Executive Leadership Team. Jessie Sanchez and Bernadette Tirre of Citizens Bank of Las Cruces have been giving back to the community and the March of Dimes for years. The Sitel team made up of John Munoz, Dorothea Martinez de Vargas, Maria George and Angelea Salazar are also extremely committed to our community.
Spearheading a new initiative, Farmers for Babies, Stormy Adams of Shiloh Farms will bring together 10 farmers to give back. Also, Cameron Leopold of Adams Radio Group of Las Cruces is eagerly excited to help babies and the community.
Each one of the Executive Leadership Team members are helping children like Walter and Ryder who fought for every bit of life, working for those families who never had the chance to bring their baby home, and they are following in the footsteps of President Roosevelt who asked communities to give back and help their neighbors.
To learn more about our local March of Dimes Chapter or to give back contact Margarita Eddings, Southern NM March of Dimes Development Manager at 575-523-2627.