Mission: Healthy Babies

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By Stephen Lega

Approximately 40 walkers from Marion and Taylor counties participated in the first Green River Walk at Graham Memorial Park in Lebanon Saturday.

The walk is a fund-raiser for the March of Dimes, which works to prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.

"Our mission is that one day every baby is going to be born healthy," said Mandy Kucela, the March of Dimes Barren River District director.

As of Saturday, local walk participants had raised $9,500. Kucela estimated they would raise more than $10,000 by the end of the year. This is the first year Marion and Taylor counties have held a joint fund-raiser for the March of Dimes' March for Babies.

Spring View Hospital in Lebanon was the top fund-raising company, collecting $3,294.43. Shelbie's Angels collected $1,450 to be the top fund-raising family team, and Shelbie Pierce of Campbellsville was the top individual fund-raiser, raising $1,200.

Pierce, 5, was herself a premature baby, who weighed one pound, 15 ounces when she was born. She had to stay in the hospital for 100 days before she was allowed to leave, according to her mother, Angie Pierce. They participate in the march in hopes that other families won't have to go through what they did.

"A lot of people get to hear miracles," Angie Pierce said. "I get to hug and kiss one every day."

Barry and Chiquita Gordon of Raywick have walked every year since their son, Stephen Chase Gordon, passed away in 2000.

"For us, it's a memory of our son and all the other babies that have passed on," Chiquita Gordon said.

And Barry Gordon added that it gives them a way to help other families.

This year's ambassador family was Heather Farmer and her daughter, Kayleigh, who was born two months premature and with a cleft palate. As a result, Kayleigh, 5 months, will require surgery when she is a year old.

Heather Farmer cut the ribbon to kick off the event. She also said it was good to see other families with children who were born premature.

"It helps because you don't think it will happen to you until it does," she said.