1 in 10 babies in the U.S. is born too soon. Right here in Huntsville, babies are struggling because they were born prematurely or with birth defects, and our state ranks low on the list for the country. In fact, Alabama is one of only three states to score an ‘F’ on a premature birth report card issued by the March of Dimes. With a preterm birth rate of 11.7, the only states to score lower were Louisiana and Mississippi. Simply put, this is not acceptable to us.
There are so many worthy causes to support, and this one is near and dear to our hearts here at Rocket City Mom for personal reasons. Many of our writers have gone through the very scary experience of having a preterm babies, one even more than two months premature.
Our RCM family has been through twins, breech births, emergency C-sections, and stays in the NICU. Thankfully, we all eventually got to go home with our new bundles of joy.
But not every baby gets to go home.
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Team Will’s Story
Morris and Shannon Lilienthal were friends in high school and dated for 9 years before getting married. They settled in Huntsville with Shannon now teaching at Madison City Schools and Morris practicing law at Martinson & Beason, PC. Their first son, William Jackson Lilienthal, was born on June 5, 2009. Will unexpectedly suffered from VACTERL association, which is a cluster of abnormalities that occurs 1 in 10,000 to 40,000 newborns. Shannon and Morris were able to hold their son for three days before he passed away.
Today, the couple turns their tragedy into hope for others. Morris explains:
“The pain and devastation of losing a child is something no parent should have to endure. Team Will has allowed Shannon and I to take the unimaginable pain of losing a child and turn it into something truly awesome. Through the efforts of our friends, family, and complete strangers we’ve able to honor our sweet angel and raise money for the March of Dimes to help give every child a healthy start.”
Morris and Shannon have come together with friends and family to raise over $31,000 for the March of Dimes since that time. Their six year-old son, Wyatt Jameson is old enough to help this year and help honor the brother his initials match. Their team is in first place in the state for raising funds for the March of Dimes.
A March We Can All Get Behind
Chances are good you already know a family like the Lilienthals that have been affected by pre-term birth or at worst, lost a child in the first few weeks of its life. Honoring that baby during the March of Dimes awareness campaign can be a thoughtful way to show a family you’re thinking of them – and support efforts to keep it happening to someone else at the same time. We’ve included a few ideas about how to do that below.
March In Their Name
Join other local families on Saturday, April 22nd at UAH’s Charger Park to March for Babies. It’s a fun community event that includes a 5K, a kid’s Superhero Sprint, activities, entertainment, and prizes. You’ll have the opportunity to walk, run, or jog in honor of a baby or family you know.
Support a Local Team
Can’t make it to the March for Babies? Consider making a gift to a team in Madison County to help meet their goal. Every little bit counts, and by taking part in March for Babies, you are funding programs that provide comfort and support to moms and babies across the country. Your proceeds fund cutting-edge March of Dimes research to find the unknown causes of premature birth and birth defects.
Spread the Word
If time and money aren’t things you can give, help advocate for the March of Dimes. Share Kaya’s story, or Will’s story on social media. Find out more about efforts to battle preterm births in Alabama. Support prenatal healthcare for all women and recognize it as crucial to healthy babies and whole families throughout the state.
You Might Also Like…
- Reap the Whirlwind
- March of Dimes Alabama on Facebook
- A Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth in Huntsville