CUMMING -- Brian and Jennifer Wright credit March of Dimes for helping save their now 6-and-a-half-month old boy, Benjamin Adam Wright.
On Wednesday, the organization held its Forsyth County March for Babies kickoff event to “get everybody rallied together in the county [to] start raising funds for sick babies, those that have passed and the newborn babies that are in the NICU,” said Amanda Meeks, 2017 Forsyth County March for Babies chair.
The march, a walk that raises money for March of Dimes, will be held Friday, May 5 at South Forsyth High School.
“March of Dimes does a lot of research for moms and families and babies,” Meeks said. “They do tons of research to figure out why premature birth happens, because we don’t know.”
The Wrights, who are this year’s ambassador family for the fundraiser and event, told their story to team members, nurses and others who attended the kickoff event.
Born prematurely on Monday, July 11, 2016, Ben and his twin, Samuel, weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces and 4 pounds 4 ounces, respectively, at their time of birth.
Despite being admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, to help with feeding, both boys seemed healthy.
That Friday, the Wright’s got a call — Samuel was very sick, and if his condition did not improve, he would have to be transferred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — Scottish Rite.
The following day, he was taken to Scottish Rite, where he rapidly declined.
On Sunday, July 17, at 6 days old, the newborn passed away.
In the meantime, his brother, Ben, had also become sick with the same virus — non-Polio Enterovirus, an illness that infects millions annually.
The doctors and nurses at Northside Hospital-Forsyth immediately got to work caring for Ben, and on Aug. 24, the Wrights were able to bring him home.
He is now a happy and healthy baby — a self-proclaimed miracle for the Wrights.
Without March of Dimes — a foundation that works to prevent birth defects, infant mortality and help premature babies through research and funding — the Wrights said Ben wouldn’t be here.
Meeks also is no stranger to premature birth and March of Dimes’ impact.
In 2009, I had a little girl that was born premature at 24 weeks and she was very sick. She lived for five months and nine days, but we were chosen as the 2010 ambassador family for the Forsyth County March for Babies. Ever since then, my team has raised close to $80,000 in the last seven years.”
The money raised at the annual event — this year a 3.2-mile walk — helps March of Dimes conduct research and tests to help premature and sick babies.
Nationwide, one in 10 babies is born prematurely, making premature birth the No. 1 killer of infants.
In Georgia, that number is a little lower; one in 13 babies in the state is born prematurely.
However, in 2016, the state earned a letter grade of “D” on the ninth annual premature birth report card, with a 10.8 percent preterm birth rate.
Preterm, or premature, birth is birth less than 37 weeks gestation based on the obstetric estimate of gestational age, and the top counties in the state for premature birth were Chatham, Fulton and Clayton.
The grades are determined by comparing the 2015 preterm birth rate in a state to the March of Dimes goal of 8.1 percent by 2020.
“We would love to have everybody at [the march], and we’re excited to get this going and hit our goal of $145,000 for the county,” Meeks said.
For more information or so sign up, visit marchforbabies.org.