MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - March of Dimes’ annual Walk For Babies is very different this year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the walk is going virtual.
In Alabama, one in eight babies is born prematurely. The Walk for Babies has been a major fundraiser for March of Dimes and to raise awareness and provide support for families.
“Our story begins about four years ago when we were pregnant with our first child, Gavin,” said Mary Thaggard, whose family has relied on the March of Dimes since 2016. When Mary was 36 weeks pregnant, her doctor couldn’t find Gavin’s heartbeat.
“It’s been devastating having to deal with that, and on top of that, a month or two later, we had an ectopic pregnancy and then struggled for a year to get pregnant again,” said Mary.
That was the first time March of Dimes stepped into the Thaggards' lives.
“We have an online support system called “Share your Story” where parents can go on and just kind of tell their story and get support from other moms that are going through the same thing,” explained Ashley Gorum, Senior Development Manager for March of Dimes Alabama market.
Then Mary and Thomas Thaggards learned Emma and Ethan were on the way.
“Being pregnant after losing a child is scary, then again being pregnant with two babies is even more scary, because you know anything can happen at any time,” Mary remembered. At 32 weeks, Mary began having contractions every two minutes. An ultrasound showed both of her placentas were calcifying. The twins were born about a week later.
"Emma was three pounds and Ethan was four pounds, so they did stay in the NICU for about 21 days," said Mary.
Two and half years down the road, you'd never know. Both toddlers are healthy and happy.
"We love being outside, we love playing with cars, she's starting to get more into baby dolls and taking care of her babies," Mary said.
The Thaggards are this year's ambassador family for the March of Dimes, serving as spokespeople for the organization that has walked them through some of their toughest times.
"This amazing organization really helps families. I didn't even know they had supported families of loss, and that was huge for us," Mary said. "Just them being there to support us, support the babies, all the research that they're doing to help prevent things like this from happening, has been amazing."
Also, because of the pandemic, March of Dimes needs your support now more than ever to continue to serve and support families like the Thaggards.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, March of Dimes has taken those NICU family support programs and virtualized them, so people across the country don't have to leave their home. They can still gather together on those virtual support systems, and receive that support," Gorum said.
For the duration of the pandemic, March of Dimes is holding weekly webinars covering a wide range of topics about women and children’s health as it relates to coronavirus. Those are live on the March of Dimes Facebook page.
For Friday’s virtual Walk for Babies, Alabama’s Opening Ceremony will be from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. If interested in joining, email email@example.com so for the link.
The national Step Up March for Babies event will be from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Facebook Live. Then everyone is encouraged to get out and walk this afternoon and post pictures on social media using #WalkForBabies.
To find more information about the Central Alabama March for Babies visit this link.