Thomasville, Georgia-- To help curb the rising rate of infant mortality, the March of Dimes is kicking off its annual "Walk America" drive in Thomasville.
Chandler Fiveash was born three months early. Since then, he's overcome many odds to make it to four years old. "He weighed one pound, fourteen ounces. He was 13 and three quarter inches long," says his mother, Tracie Fiveash.
The March of Dimes helped Chandler make it so far. The non-profit just launched its annual "Walk America Drive" in Thomasville. "Fifty percent of the premature births, there's no rhyme or reason to why they happen, and that's what we're trying to find out," says MOD spokeswoman, Michelle Redmond.
Balloons lightened the mood at the kick-off, but the March of Dimes' message still weighs heavy. "Birth defects have steadily increased. Prematurity has steadily increased over the past 25 years, about 20 percent," says Redmond.
To give you a better idea of just how small a premature baby is, they wear diapers about half the size of regular ones, and they're still too small for many of the children. Also, a typical transfusion for a premature baby is one a teaspoon of blood. "They face tremendous obstacles maintaining their temperature and fighting off infection because their immune system is incomplete, their lungs aren't mature," says Doctor Jeffrey Myers.
But thanks to the March of Dimes, kids like Chandler have a chance to overcome that. "I Like to play soccer," he says. "He just started to play soccer. He's the littles one on his team and he got the first two goals," says Chandler's mother. Not bad for a child who was also born with detached retinas.
The drive ends on May 13th with a four mile walk at Thomas University to celebrate the money raised. If you want to help the March of Dimes reach its $23,000 goal, you can call 229-432-1201.