We, as a family, have been walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies event every year since 2005. We don’t do it for personal recognition, nor as just a way to get out and walk a 5K as a family early on an April Saturday morning. We do it because it is a morning to celebrate the miracle of our Big Man’s life, and as a way to say “Thank you” to the March of Dimes. Research they funded essentially saved Big Man’s life when he was born over 3 months early. For that, there isn’t enough we can do to give back. In the course of ten fundraising campaigns, we’ve raised nearly $50,000 for the organization. In 2014, we were the Top Family Team in San Diego/Imperial Counties Division.
If you’ve ever done any fundraising to benefit an organization, you know there is usually a goal-setting step for that fundraising. We had to connect our goal to something meaningful. Our team goal has been $9,300 for the last five years, but we’ve never come close, usually ending up $3000-$4000 short. But again, we didn’t walk and tell our story to get to a certain amount, although that number hung in the back of my brain for years. That number, $9,3000, represents $100 for every day Big Man spent in the NICU. The symbolism of reaching that number meant something to me, so last year, we recruited friends to really help. On the night of our big fundraiser, I made our goal clear. Towards the end of the night, I counted the proceeds. We were short. Then I counted again. Still short. Then I counted again, and again. Then I counted yet again the next morning. In the end, we’d not only reached our goal, we’d exceeded it by over $300. I, who spouts words all day long, was speechless.
The March for Babies Kick-off Lunch was last week. They always do awards for the top corporate and family teams, and the top individual walkers. Our team was, for the second year running, the Top Family Team for 2015.
Why does that matter? It isn’t the plaques, nor the applause, nor any type of recognition. It matters because we know that money is going towards helping other families NEVER have to go through what we went through. In the eleven years we’ve been involved, the rate of premature birth in the United States has dropped from 1 in 8 to 1 in 9. It’s gone from 12% in California down to just over 9%. Five collaborative prematurity research centers have opened in the United States. That matters more than any plaque or name in print. We will keep doing what we’re doing until the day no parent faces the reality of the NICU, the fear and heartbreak of a too-soon birth, the pain of a pregnancy dream ending in a nightmare.