When Leanne O’Brien glances down at her healthy 18-month-old twins, Remy and Ronan, she knows their lives are nothing short of a miracle. Born nearly 28 weeks premature as a result of severe preeclampsia, her twins spent the first four and a half months of their young lives at Texas Children’s Newborn Center.
“As soon as they were born, the NICU team took care of our babies who each weighed between two and three pounds,” said O’Brien, assistant director of IS Customer Service at Texas Children’s. “They immediately went to NICU 3, then we went to NICU 4 for PDA closures to treat a congenital heart defect and then to NICU 2 until our babies were well enough to come home.”
At the time, O’Brien didn’t know much about the causes and complications of infant prematurity. After her family’s NICU journey, she decided to do something she’d never done before – participate in the March for Babies Walk with her husband and their twins, and her mom and sister on behalf of Texas Children’s to support other NICU families who have encountered similarly challenging situations.
“I wanted to use my voice and share my testimony to help pregnant women and families wherever and however I can,” O’Brien said. “Participating in the walk was a pretty emotional day for me. I thought about all of what my family and my kids went through and how blessed we are to be here today. But I also thought about the families and babies who are currently fighting and all the babies who lost their fight.”
With the generous support from O’Brien and other Texas Children’s employees and their families, Texas Children’s was recently honored as the top corporate team in Houston to raise nearly $180,000 in total funds for the March of Dimes based on corporate sponsorship and employee and team fundraising.
“Of the Top 50 participating teams, we are thrilled to see Texas Children’s Hospital take the number one spot in Houston for the first time,” said Darcie Wells, executive director of the March of Dimes Foundation of Greater Houston. “We thank Texas Children’s leaders and employees for their incredible efforts for moms and babies.”
Several months prior to the March for Babies walk, departments and units from across the organization formed their own teams to help raise money and rally support around this worthy cause. Teams hosted barbecues, designed and sold t-shirts, held bake sales, arranged bike tours and even paid to give their leaders a pie in the face to raise money and awareness. Each of the 63 teams raised an average of $1,476, all of which helped Texas Children’s exceed this year’s fundraising goal of $120,000.
“Since 1984, Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine have received more than $16 million from the March of Dimes to support research to prevent birth defects and prematurity,” said Cris Daskevich, senior vice president at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. “Our long-term partnership has helped significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for some of our most fragile babies – giving hope to patients and families when there once was none.”
O’Brien encourages everyone thinking about participating in next year’s walk to help support the March of Dimes. “It is such an amazing cause, and by donating or walking, you can help give every baby a fighting chance,” O’Brien said.
The March of Dimes will officially celebrate the Top 10 Teams at a citywide kickoff of its 2017 campaign on February 8, 2017.
Click here to watch the slideshow of the 2016 March for Babies Walk.