Lace up your walking shoes and get ready to March for Babies

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - If you love babies -- and who doesn't -- lace up those walking shoes and mark your calendars for the annual March for Babies.

Join more than 1,000 people at Charger Park at UAH in support of moms at every stage from preconception to post-delivery with research, programs, and education; and it all comes together with a celebration at March for Babies on Saturday, April 21st.

The March of Dimes event funds lifesaving research and education and no one knows the importance of this mission better than the families impacted by it.

When you participate in March for Babies, you're raising critical funds to help tackle the biggest health threats to moms and babies.

The goal is to raise $300,000 for a healthier future for babies.

Here's a look at this year's schedule:

  • Festival Area and Donation Turn-in opensĀ at 8:00 a.m.
  • Opening Ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m.
  • March for Babies begins at 9:00 a.m.
  • Superhero Sprint for kids (ages 1-10) will follow
  • Festival activities and award announcements continue until close at 11:30 a.m.

This year's March for Babies Ambassador Family is the Bates family - Rusty, Kristin, and Lauren.

On March 3, 2010, Kristin went to her doctor for a routine 28-week check-up. During the doctor`s visit, there were some changes noted that gave the doctor cause for concern. Kristin was sent over to Huntsville Hospital for a 24-hour observation. During the hospital visit, it was discovered the Kristin had HELLP syndrome. HELLP syndrome can be dangerous and even fatal to both the mom and the baby. The doctor`s concluded that the best thing for both mom and baby would be to deliver the baby.

On March 5th, 2010, Lauren Elizabeth Bates was born at 28 weeks gestation weighing 2 lbs. 12 oz. and was 15 in. long. Lauren was immediately transported to the Neonatal ICU where doctors and nurses began caring for her.

While in the NICU, Lauren was treated by some of the best nurses and doctors around. Lauren didn`t have any major complications during her stay in the NICU. She did have a heart murmur that was detected and treated by medication. She also was treated for 'gut problems' which were healed by medication and time. Lauren was in the NICU for 52 days. She came home from the NICU one month before her due date.

Today, Lauren is a very normal and active 7-year-old girl. She enjoys going to church, playing sports, and playing with her friends and cousins. She excels at school and loves to read and learn.