|Reaching out and remembering|
Author: Paula Halloum
She raises her eyes, pointedly. “I wanted to do something tangible for the boys, to acknowledge their existence. I wanted to do it for them,” notes Melissa McSpadden, this year’s March for Babies Austin ambassador family mom, about her motivation to join forces with the non-profit organization. Her introduction to the March of Dimes came by invitation from her sister-in-law to participate in the 2009 March for Babies event here in Austin.
The summer prior on August 3, 2008, Melissa, who was just 23 weeks pregnant with identical twin boys, and her husband Michael went to the hospital because, Melissa recalls, “something just wasn’t right.” Soon they were faced with unexpected news: their twin boys were going to be born that day. Their hearts broke when Landon and Gavin, weighing just 1 lb., 4 oz. and 1 lb., 2 oz., respectively, passed away during childbirth. “Family was our primary source for support. There was always someone from the family at our house,” says Melissa. “And we still struggle. When somebody asks us how many kids we have, that’s hard. Coping [with our loss] gets better the longer we go, and having more children since has helped, too.” The McSpaddens have three daughters, Camryn, 7; Logan, 3 and Rowan, 7 months.
Embracing the concept of being able to help other families facing experiences similar to their own also fuels the McSpaddens to reach out. Enter Team Landon and Gavin. “We started our March for Babies team in 2009 and over the past three years have raised more than $23,000 for March of Dimes,” she says. According to the March for Babies website, funds raised for the event “support research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives. And they will be used to bring comfort and information to families with a baby in newborn intensive care.” Team Landon and Galvin has also been awarded the Austin division’s Top Family Team in both 2011 and 2012. “If we can make that difference for someone else by raising bigger donations to put toward that medicine or that cure…” Melissa beams. “That helps.”
Georgia Thomsen, executive director for the March of Dimes Austin Division says this year’s March for Babies has special meaning in that the organization is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Founded by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 and originally named The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the March of Dimes has impacted the lives of families and babies globally with its mission to “improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.”
The March for Babies began in 1970, with the first march in the U.S. in San Antonio. “The March for Babies event is the largest walk in central Texas, with 8,000 to 10,000 people participating each year,” remarks Georgia. “Families are touched by this mission, and the event itself is reminiscent of a fair and huge picnic.
You’ll see lots of families, kids, strollers, dogs, grills and a bouncy house.” She adds that ambassador families, like the McSpaddens, are important components to the energy of the event and “are the face for the March of Dimes. These families are very civic-minded. But the overriding contribution our ambassador families make is their ability to relate and sympathize with other families in ways others cannot.”
Memories abound for the McSpaddens from previous March for Babies events. “We love seeing everybody there to support us and our family and wearing the team t-shirts with the boys’ names on it. It makes my heart happy to have all those people there who love us and love Landon and Gavin,” she says.
March for Babies – Austin 2013
Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Registration Time: 8:00 a.m.
400 W Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78704
It’s America’s favorite walking event! When you walk, you give hope to the babies born too soon or sick.
The March for Babies event will be held Saturday, May 4, at Auditorium Shores. For more information, contact the March for Babies director at 568-3445 or visit www.marchofdimes.com.
Paula Halloum is the mother of three healthy kids and is currently the copy editor and photographer for Austin Family while pursuing a degree in nursing.