FORSYTH COUNTY — The local March of Dimes’ March for Babies fundraiser kicked off Wednesday, and not many eyes were left dry as mothers shared their experiences of giving birth to premature babies.
Some stories ended by pointing to their daughter in the room. Others only had a picture.
Teams of “walkers” joined to pledge their support and raise money, which all leads up to the annual march April 18 at Otwell Middle School.
This year’s ambassador family was voiced by Amy Adams, who spoke of her daughter, Madelyn’s, fight to survive her first few months. She overcame lung collapses, a lack of amniotic fluid and antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.
The Adams family credits God for the life and healing of their daughter and sister that they said doctors could only explain as a miracle. Madelyn is now a 14-year-old student at Horizon Christian Academy in Cumming.
However, not every story had a happy ending.
Forsyth County’s March of Dimes chairwoman, Amanda Meeks, saw her first child pass away in 2010 after a months-long fight.
She explained her young son, Memphis, now has the Beanie Baby that her daughter, Addison, had in the hospital. Born at 12 ounces, she was smaller than the small stuffed animal.
Like most people, Meeks said she had heard of March of Dimes before having Addison. But she never realized how much the organization does to fight premature births through research, maternal support and education.
“Until you’re going through it and you’re living it, you have no idea,” she said. “Then you have no choice.”
Her team raised more than $13,000 last year.
That money directly benefits babies born prematurely and their mothers in the metro Atlanta community, she said, citing that 353 newborns in Georgia are premature each year. That adds up to about 20,000 in the country.
“When you’re affected on a personal level, you want to help,” Meeks said. “They’re stronger than you can ever imagine, but they still need help. It definitely changes you.”
Even with all of the research and equipment directly funded through March of Dimes, she said there can always be more.
After about five months, her daughter’s lungs could not tolerate weight gain.
“So we went over there, and we were all there,” Meeks said. “And she died in my arms. That’s why I walk. She’s why I walk.”