HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — For the hundreds taking part in Saturday’s March for Babies on the HudsonAlpha campus in Research Park, it’s more than just a walk. It could make the difference in a baby’s life here in North Alabama, says Honour McDaniel of March of Dimes Alabama.

“We’re really focusing on pre-term birth,” McDaniel said. “So that means babies born too early, and in Alabama that’s one in eight babies (who) are born too soon. And we see a lot of heart defects, lung defects and we’re also seeing high infant mortality rates.”

Commemorating the infants who did and didn’t make it out of the NICU, March of Dimes Alabama raises close to $100,000 each year just through the single-day event, according to its Marketing Impact Director Ashley Toms.

“It’s crucial for us to not only be together to unify our voices, but also to show those parents they’re not alone,” said McDaniel, who also serves as Director of Maternal and Infant Health Initiatives. “They have their community around them, that we want to be there. And (it’s) one thing to say that over email or text, but it’s another to be in-person, to be together to surround those families.”

One issue especially needing attention this year is racial health inequity, McDaniel said.

“Black women in Alabama have a 52% higher rate of preterm birth than their other counterparts, so we definitely want to let them know that we see them, we’re not going to stand for that, and we’re going to really work to close that health equity gap.”