He and his wife Peggy have lived it because their twin daughters, Abby and Presley, were born prematurely and weighed only three pounds 11 ounces and three pounds 3 ounces at birth. The Steele family, this year’s March for Babies Ambassador Family, told their story at the Kick-Off Luncheon last Friday, which was held on the Hazard Campus of the Hazard Community and Technical College.
Steele said that his wife was at 24 weeks when she started having contractions and had to spend a week in the hospital in Whitesburg. He said that she went home and made it almost two weeks before she had to go back to Whitesburg where she was eventually flown out to Saint Joseph’s East.
“It is a long drive from Whitesburg to Lexington with your wife in a helicopter not knowing what is going to happen,” Steele said.
When the twins were born, they and their mother experienced complications. He said that Presley had heart surgery at nine days old.
“The March of Dimes is a wonderful organization and without them my children wouldn’t be here,” Peggy Steele said.
March of Dimes is an organization that raises money to improve babies’ health by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
They will hold their annual march on Sunday, April 20 at Hazard Daniel Field beginning at 2 p.m. Formerly WalkAmerica, the march has undergone a name change to March for Babies. The local event also changed its name from Hazard WalkAmerica to Kentucky River Region March for Babies, which includes Perry, Knott, Letcher, Leslie, Breathitt, Lee, Wolfe, and Owsley counties.
“It’s a great change, because it makes very clear who we’re walking for, all babies. Our event name is different, but our mission remains the same,” 2008 March for Babies Chair Lee Ann Campbell said.
More than $1.8 billion has been raised since the March of Dimes’ first walk in 1970. That money has been used to give all babies a healthy start through Nobel Prize winning research and solutions.
Campbell said, “March for Babies is one of the most important ways we have of ensuring that we can continue our research and programs to fight premature birth and other threats to our babies’ health.”
The March of Dimes uses the money raised in the March for Babies walk by conducting research that allows researchers and doctors to understand and defeat problems, such as premature birth and birth defects, that threaten the health of babies. The money is also used to educate health care professionals by helping them identify women at risk for early labor and other complications, for healthy-pregnancy programs for moms-to-be that help them get their baby off to a good start, comfort, support, and information for families who have a newborn in intensive care, and for the families of babies who didn’t survive.
“People don’t understand the benefits that the March of Dimes can give. The money we raise is spent on research. That is how we have come as far as we have,” March for Babies Area Coordinator Shirlene Taylor said. “In January we had another break through. If you take folic acid a year prior to getting pregnant it will help prevent prematurity. We are still working. We still have a lot to do. That’s why we have these walks to raise money to continue the efforts that the March of Dimes does.”
The March of Dimes goal for March for Babies 2008 is $126 million. Co-Chair Charla Napier said they needed the teams’ support more than ever this year and asked every walker on each team to strive toward a personal goal of at least $200.
About 100 people, which included team members and about 40 team captains, attended the luncheon. To enter a team into the March for Babies or to enter as an individual go to www.marchforbabies.org or call Shirlene Taylor at People’s Bank at 606-487-7229.