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2012 “March for Babies” Set for May 6

March for babies kickoff event 1
March for Babies kickoff event
From left: Professor J. Gerald Quirk holds Ava Theologitis, age 16 months, as her mom and dad, Ann Marie and Peter Theologitis, look on during a March for Babies kickoff event at Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital.

In a return engagement, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital will partner with the March of Dimes as the Suffolk County venue for its annual fundraising event, March for Babies, on Sunday, May 6. The route spans the circumference of the Stony Brook University main campus, beginning at the athletic fields adjacent to the new outdoor track facility.

This year’s “ambassador family” is the Theologitis family of Lake Grove. Ann Marie Theologitis gave birth three months prematurely to identical twin sons and a daughter at Stony Brook Children’s in 2010. Although the boys, Niko and Alex, did not survive, her daughter, Ava, survived and thrived, thanks to the expert care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Now Theologitis volunteers in the NICU to give back to families who face similar situations.

“We were so blessed with the resources that were available to us during the most intense time of our life that I wanted to give back,” Theologitis said. “Today I serve as a resource to women in the NICU going through what I went through. I know what it means. I talk with the other parents; I cry with them, we keep in touch. Although every situation is different, to have someone who has been there walking beside them makes the journey a little easier.”

The March of Dimes helps ease the journey for parents of more than half a million babies born prematurely each year, including more than 120,000 babies with serious birth defects. For every dollar a walker raises, the March of Dimes spends 76 cents to support research and programs designed to help babies begin healthy lives. Since 1970 March of Dimes has been walking with its supporters and has raised $1.8 billion.

Last year’s walk at Stony Brook raised more than $300,000, thanks to more than 1,500 people who participated. Co-chairs of this year’s event are Margaret M. McGovern, professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook School of Medicine, and physician-in-chief at Stony Brook Children’s; and J. Gerald Quirk, professor and chair, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Stony Brook School of Medicine, who also co-chaired last year’s successful walk.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for our patients to reconnect with each other and with our staff at Stony Brook Children’s,” said McGovern. “It’s also a great opportunity for the community to learn more about the remarkable care provided here every day for the children of Long Island at Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital.”

“Each year the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Stony Brook Children’s treats more than a thousand premature babies,” Quirk added. “Participating in the walk is a great way to make a difference in the lives of families like the Theologitises who have been touched deeply and forever by the care we provide.”

To walk as an individual or to form a team for the May 6 walk, click here.

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