Saturday, the Southwestern Medical Center hosted it is first annual March for Babies fundraiser.
Proceeds will help fund prenatal wellness programs, research grants, and newborn intensive care units.
Families came together to walk, either in honor of their own preemie or just simply to spread awareness and to help raise money for a worthy cause.
At each March for Babies there is an ambassador family.
At Saturday’s march, it was the Perkins family.
They struggled after their baby boy was born prematurely, but with the help of others managed to fight for his little life.
Today, Rayden Perkins is a happy and healthy eight month old, but when he was born too soon, his life was threatened.
Doctors watched over him around the clock for four entire weeks.
He was pumped with iron, fed through a tube and his poor lungs were treated vigorously.
Little Rayden, and others that took their first breaths too soon are the reason people march.
“Since he was preemie, it’s touching that everyone would be raising money for march of dimes,” said Rayden’s Mother, Erica Perkins.
Saturday it was about raising money and raising heart-rates.
It is these supportive folks that have brought the Perkins family back to Lawton from Hawaii.
“I’m glad that I chose to come back to Lawton. I know the people around here are very supportive of March of Dimes. It’s better that he’s here around his family and supporters,” said Rayden’s father, Ronald Perkins.
And sadly, Rayden is just one of millions of babies born premature each year.
“I have a son that was born a month early. He was one that spent 10 days in the NICU and he was born weighing 6 lbs, 11 oz., which sounds huge but his lungs, they didn’t feel were fully developed,” said March of Dimes director, Laurie Applekamp.
But thanks to research funded by the March of Dimes…
“He’s now 20 years old and in college playing football,” said Applekamp.
The state of Oklahoma raises around 2 million dollars a year for research through the March of Dimes, but premature births are not yet preventable and that is why so many rely on support.
“There’s lots of families that don’t have a success story, so we are here to make sure that everyone has a success story to tell,” said Applekamp.
This was the first time the March for Babies was hosted by the Southwestern Medical Center.
But the executive officer of the hospital told me the event was such a success he plans on bringing it back every year.
There are 24 March for Babies events hosted across the state each year.