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March of Dimes sets $2.3 million goal at Walk for Babies events in South Florida

Local 10 News anchor Laurie Jennings serves as master of ceremonies

MIAMI – Tropical Park was alive with energy and excitement Saturday as thousands gathered for the March for Babies. 

The March of Dimes hopes to raise $2.3 million with the walks in Tropical Park and Nova South Eastern University in Davie. Money raised will be put toward funding programs dedicated to giving babies a healthy start.

"Our boys were born at 26 weeks," Luis Arango said. "It was a very long process and we were in the (neonatal intensive-care unit). We believe that if it wasn't for all the research and medical advancement provided by the March of Dimes our boys wouldn't be with us today." 

Local 10 News anchor Laurie Jennings served as the master of ceremonies at the Tropical Park event.

"It was 10 years ago my boys were born at 24 weeks, which is about 4 1/2 months early," Jennings said. "They were a pound and a half, the size of a Coke can."

She said a team from Continental Airlines walked for her at the March for Babies about a decade ago, and now Jennings and her boys, Jake and Luke, are ambassadors for the organization.

"It's all about spreading the word and trying to help moms and families extend their pregnancies," Jennings said. "The March of Dimes does so much research for that."

She said those with the organization also help families while they're in the hospital, and that they were there to help during the 4 1/2 months she was with her sons at Baptist Hospital.

"I ate dinner at Baptist Hospital every night for 4 1/2 months, I'd run to do the newscast and I’d run back," Jennings said. "It was just a chaotic, chaotic time. For every day the baby is supposed to be inside the womb it needs to be in the hospital at least."

She said those with the March of Dimes help parents by providing support, and explaining medical jargon. .

"That alone is so vital when you're wondering what is happening to your child," Jennings said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports at 1-in-10 babies in the United States is born premature. 

"Everything that we went through in the hospital, it definitely wasn't easy," Annette Arango said. "It was an emotional time for us. So to come here and represent, I'm proud, I'm very proud." 

Her husband, Luis Arango, agreed. 

"It's a process," he said. "Put your faith in God and believe in the love of the family and you'll get there."