On Sunday, April 28, hundreds from the Greater Hartford area will gather for March for Babies at Rentschler Field to benefit the March of Dimes. Leading the festivities will be Tim and Angela Mips of Ellington, along with their sons, Andrew and Oliver, who will serve as the 2013 Greater Hartford Ambassador family. They will share their journey of Oliver’s premature birth, and thank walkers for their commitment to the March of Dimes mission to give all babies a healthy start.
Angela was due with Oliver on August 22, 2011, but due to intrauterine growth restriction, Oliver was delivered in mid-May. Born 14 weeks too soon at Hartford Hospital, Oliver weighed just 1 lb. 3 oz. He received surfactant, a therapy funded in part through the March of Dimes, to help mature his tiny lungs.
“Seeing him with all of those tubes and wires is something I will never, ever forget,” said Angela. “Nothing can prepare anyone for the highs and lows that a NICU stay will bring to a family. It is such an emotional roller coaster that seems never ending. The support of the amazing nurses and staff were what got us through on our toughest days.”
Oliver spent an astonishing 476 consecutive days in the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit before he was finally able to come home. Because of his early birth, Oliver has bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or chronic lung disease, and breaths with the assistance of a ventilator (Oliver received a tracheostomy two days before his actual due date). He is also has immunodeficiency disorder, meaning his immune system’s ability to fight disease is compromised. Oliver also receives his nutrition through a G-tube.
Oliver will turn two years old on May 17. “He is so happy and loves socialization with anyone. He has several favorite toys and will do anything to get to them even though he can't crawl or walk,” said Angela. “His equipment does not stop him! He is still severely delayed but works closely with Birth to 3 and has come a long way since he has come home in September. He loves to rolls around and cause trouble!”
“We are honored to be the Greater Hartford Ambassador family because we are truly thankful to the March of Dimes and to all of those who have contributed to the organization. Without surfactant therapy, Oliver would not be here with us today,” she continued.
March for Babies participants can meet the family and hear their story at Rentschler Field on Sunday, April 28. Funds raised by March for Babies help support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) family support programs and advocacy efforts for stronger, healthier babies. Registration for March for Babies begins at 9:00 a.m. with the walk kicking off at 10:00 a.m. To register visit marchforbabies.org or marchofdimes.com/ct. Donations may be made online to the Mips’ team, Team Mighty Oliver.
Greater Hartford March for Babies is sponsored by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Aetna, Clear Channel Radio, Connecticut Parent Magazine, Lamar, and statewide sponsors NBC Connecticut and Comcast. March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Macy’s, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Famous Footwear, Actavis, Mission Pharmacal, and United Airlines.
In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life. Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted from March of Dimes lifesaving research and education.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.