Knoxville March for Babies celebrates 75 years

Knoxville March for Babies celebrates 75 years of saving children's lives

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By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Hundreds turned out in Knoxville Saturday to help celebrate a major milestone in the fight to end premature birth.

The March of Dimes is celebrating its 75th Anniversary, and more than 700 walkers help commemorate the achievement at the Knoxville March for Babies.

"We love babies. We're all about healthy ones. We walk in tribute to those babies lives who have been saved, and also to memorialize those that we've lost," said March of Dimes East Tennessee Executive Director Susie Racek. "We're actually celebrating our 75th year of milestones and breakthroughs that really affect all babies."

For 75 years, the March of Dimes has raised money to fund research into life-saving treatments for premature babies.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death.

Families of more than 25 local children saved through the efforts of the March of Dimes participated in Saturday's march, like the family of Alli Belin of Sevierville.

Born at just 27 weeks, she weighed less than a single pound.

The procedure that helped develop her premature lungs was created through the March of Dimes.

"She wouldn't have ever left the operating room when she was born had we not had that advancement in medicine. It's because of their research and funding for premature lungs that she's able to be with us today," said Jackie Belin, Alli's mom.

In Knox County alone, more than 750 babies are born premature each and every year.

Nearly 40 of them never see their first birthday.

It's because of numbers like that the March of Dimes works tirelessly, rain or shine, so they can make a difference in those statistics.

Every stride made in Saturday's march is an important step on the road to ending premature births in the future, ensuring that one day, every baby's journey from birth is a healthy one.

"I don't want my girls to have to walk this road. I don't want my grandkids to have to walk this road," said Belin. "Babies deserve not to fight. We deserve take home babies."

 For more information on the March of Dimes, visit their website at http://www.marchofdimes.com/.

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