Walking for premature babies

March of Dimes event draws hundreds

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  • Photos by John Church Pictured from left, standing: Jessica and Jason Soehngen of Sparta, with their twin girls Olivia (left) and Amilia, who were born premature, staying warm in the Sussex County Fairgrounds Conservatory Building.

  • The Pink Ladies team from Barn Hill Care Center in Newton. From left: Crystal McCants of Branchville, Sandy Henderson of Branchville, Aliyah Correy, 5, of Wantage and Helen Washburn of Wantage.

  • Many of the walkers hugged themselves to stay warm at 9 a.m. Sunday.

  • Joe Morgan's, of Hampton, granddaughter, Jaelyn Gilmore, was born premature weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces. "The March of Dimes is a great cause," Morgan said.

Prematurity on the rise

According to the March of Dimes, one and a half million babies are born too soon in the United States and the premature birth rate has risen by 36 percent over the last 25 years.
The March of Dimes funds lifesaving research and speaks out for legislation that improves care for moms and babies.

By John Church

“We are gathered here today, Sussex and Warren County, to walk for our babies,” said Matt Rohsler.

Roshler is the Chairman of the March of Dimes Skylands walk held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta Sunday morning.

“This is March for Babies, our annual fundraiser, it is our largest fundraiser,” he continued.

More than 500 walkers gathered in the chilly weather waiting for the 9 a.m. start. The course was entirely on the property keeping walkers off of the public roads. The 3.5 mile walk was two laps around the fairgrounds, beginning and ending in the Conservatory Building garden area.

“We have been doing this for well over 30 years,” Rohsler said.

Walkers formerly asked for pledges and raised money by walking around a set course.

“It used to be it was per mile, but now is pretty much by donation,” Rohsler said.

The March of Dimes does not work with any particular hospitals or health care providers.

“We work with babies, it doesn’t matter where they are,” said Rohsler.

He said that there were walks held across the country Sunday but money raised by the Augusta walk would serve the local area.

“The money stays in both of the counties.”

The walkers

Some of the walkers either had a premature baby, or knew somebody who did.

Joe Morgan of Hampton is grateful for the support supplied to his daughter when his granddaughter, Jaelyn Gilmore was born premature. Born to Amanda and Bobby Gilmore, Jaelyn weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces at birth. Morgan said she has not had any medical problems.

“The March of Dimes is a great cause,” said Morgan. “They helped us out.”

Jessica and Jason Soehngen of Sparta were out to walk with their twin girls Olivia and Amilia, who were also born premature.

“The twins were five weeks premature,” said Jessica Soehngen.

The two year old girls are healthy and Jason said, “it is important to give back as a family.”

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