March for Babies raises money for premature birth research

GROVE CITY, OH (WCMH) — Did you know 17,000 babies will be born too soon in Ohio this year alone? Next month thousands of people will March for Babies in downtown Columbus. Organizers are hoping to raise more than half a million dollars. It’s money that will go to raising awareness and towards research to ensure babies are born full-term, happy and healthy.

A Grove City family knows firsthand the pain that comes with losing a child.

“January of 2012 we found out we were expecting our first baby,” said Samantha O’Neill.

But, just four months into what she called a textbook pregnancy, heartbreak.

“My water broke and he passed away a week later.”

It was devastating. But, soon after, Ryan and Samantha O’Neills sorrow turned to joy. They learned they were having twins!

“It was a high risk pregnancy because we had just experienced loss,” said Samantha. Despite being put on hospital bed rest, Samantha went into labor early delivering 1 pound 15 ounce Mackenzie and 1 pound 12 ounce Maddison.

“When we first saw them, I mean they were the smallest things I’d ever seen in my life,” she said. “I just cried. I was like how are these little babies gonna live?”

Maddison and Mackenzie spent three months in the neonatal intensive-care unit, every day getting stronger. Today, three years later, these little girls aren’t so little anymore. The girls are physically and developmentally caught up to children their same age.

“To see them healthy and thriving and smart and funny, it’s just amazing and we’re so blessed,” said Ryan.

They beat the odds. But, not all premature babies survive. And others face serious health problems.

“Premature birth is a significant problem. One in ten babies are born prematurely and premature birth is the number one killer of babies and that’s just not acceptable,” said Tim Kauffman with March of Dimes.

The O’Neills are this year’s March of Dimes, “March for Babies” ambassador family. They’re sharing their story to raise awareness and help raise money for research so more babies like theirs get to come home.

“We’ve just got to keep raising awareness and money and you can have healthy babies, just got to find more answers,” said Ryan.

March for Babies is May 1st at COSI. To learn more and how to register visit: http://www.marchofdimes.org/ohio/events/10242_3137323538.html

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