March for Babies works to raise awareness, funds

For the first few weeks of Evan Fisher’s life, his parents, David and Katie, didn’t know if he would live.

He was born 12 weeks premature and was hooked up to a ventilation system while his parents were only able to watch in fear.

“The unknown is the scariest part,” David Fisher said, reflecting on his mindset when Evan was born in September 2011.

Sunday, the now 19-month-old Evan was laughing and smiling as his parents pushed his stroller around Medlar Field at Lubrano Park as part of the March for Babies Walk. The Fishers were chosen as the ambassador family for the event after organizers heard their story and approached them last year.

The local March of Dimes chapter is looking to raise more than $60,000 this year for research and prevention of child birth defects, said Lauren Hamilton, community director of March of Dimes in State College. The organization was founded in 1938 to help prevent polio in children and now has a major focus on preventing premature birth and saving lives of children.

The event Sunday was a celebration of the money raised so far, Hamilton said, and she expects that the local chapter will reach its goal this year. The celebration featured a walk around the field, food, live music and games for children.

“I think it turned out really well, and I’m really excited,” Hamilton said of the event, which drew about 300 people. “It seems like there are a lot of folks that really worked to get kids healthy.”

Last year March for Babies raised $107 million, which went toward research and prevention that directly helps children. Because of that research, doctors were able to provide Evan with a drug that would increase his lung capacity and ultimately help him stay alive.

There was a memorial area dedicated to children who passed away, and some were walking in remembrance as well as for prevention.

Tara Butler, of Milesburg, was walking around the stadium on Team Chayton for friends of hers who lost a young child.

Despite sprinkling rain, Butler trekked more than 2 miles around the stadium pushing a stroller to show support. She plans to get more involved in fundraising in the coming years if she finds time.

The Fishers also urged others to get more involved and help support the lives of children.

“I think it’s priceless,” David Fisher said. “It’s for a very good cause and it’s excellent.”

Katie Fisher added that the events are also important because they get the word out about problems that are not widely discussed unless there is a personal connection.

The March of Dimes is investing more than $99 million nationally and $4.5 million in Pennsylvania for research programs.