Posted: May 12, 2013 9:15 AM by Tara Grimes - MTN News
Updated: May 12, 2013 9:21 AM
The March of Dimes held its largest fundraiser of the year in Great Falls on Saturday morning in Gibson Park.
According to the March of Dimes, more than half a million babies in the United States are born too early and 1,400 of them are in Montana. The March for Babies Walk raises money for research that helps solve some of the most serious problems facing premature babies and babies with birth defects. It also raises money for programs that give education to pregnant mothers.
This year's walk raised more than $35,000.
For the Hannon family, the walk is very personal. Wesley and Nikki Hannon said their daughter Jacelynn was born 15 weeks early, weighing only 1 pd 7.5 oz.
"She was in Brigham Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts for 110 days," Wesley Hannon said. "It really tests you mentally, physically, everything. Emotionally it's horrible."
Throughout her stay, the family watched as Jacelynn worked to overcome many different complications including a brain hemorrhage, open heart surgery, and chronic lung disease.
"Everyday you don't take it for granted because when they're that tiny you don't know if they're going to make it or not," Nikki Hannon said. "It's just a fight every single day."
Just when they thought all was getting better, another blow struck once again in 2007, when their next daughter also faced respiratory distress syndrome when she was born.
It was one organization however that the Hannon family says ultimately saved Jacelynn and Trysten's lives.
"Both of them got the drug Surfactant which was researched and discovered through funding by the March of Dimes," Wesley Hannon said.
So for the past nine years, the same age as Jacelynn, the Hannons have taken part in the March of Dimes walk.
They walk for the one in nine babies in Montana who are born premature, they walk for those who have survived, those who are fighting to survive, and they walk to honor those who haven't.
"I get super emotional every year, but it's so healing," Nikki Hannon said. "It just reminds you what you've been through. That's why he [Wesley] says we're lifers because it keeps carrying us."
Through their fundraising, they said they would like to see continued research, education, and medications, giving other families a ray of hope too.
"We're walking for both of our girls," Nikki Hannon said. "They're both miracles."