Hundreds of Columbia Residents March for Babies

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COLUMBIA - Several hundreds mid-Missourians spent Sunday afternoon at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia for a fund raising event for the March of Dimes organization. The funds raised support community education, research and advocacy to help mothers have full-term babies and healthy pregnancies.

"We want to make sure that moms stay healthy when they are pregnant. That they don't drink,
don't smoke, and most importantly that they stay healthy for 40 weeks," Division Director
of March of Dimes Missy Tillman said.

The event also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the organization Sunday, which was marked
by naming 75 families as statewide ambassadors for the year. Five families are from Columbia.
One family lost its daughter Rebekah Angelaine Rhoads in 2012. She was born 15 weeks early and lived for six days.

"We lost our daughter due to complications that were unforeseen. Nothing could be done about it," Brady Sause, Rebekah's mother said. "Thats what we hope to do, is help March of Dimes do research and develop medical equipment to stop brain bleeds, lung bleeds and improve baby health overall." 

Sause was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of her latRebekah on the back and was carrying her 1-year-old son Andrew, who survived the early birth that his twin sister died from.

"He may have some developmental issues, but that is one thing we have learned - we can overcome everything after what we have been through," Sause said.

Other children were honored on posters at the event to honor children that had been born early or had encountered complications at birth. One of the posters was in memory of Nicholas Lorenz Smith who was born 13 weeks early. He was only 10.5 inches long. It read: "The 30th day of his life, he was severely infected with necrotizing enterocolitis and our little miracle gained his angel wings".

More than four hundred participants were expected to attend the marching event, that also included face painting, music, a bounce house and a magic show. Columbia Pediatrician Lilian Blue was there with her daughter.

"I think its amazing to see so many people come together and show an example to our children of supporting our community," Blue said.

March of Dimes has awarded more than $3 million in the state of Missouri for research and programs to help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.