Monday, April 29, 2002

6,500 walk on behalf of babies

March of Dimes fund-raiser one of several in region

By Cindy Kranz,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gary and Susan Frazier walked in the March of Dimes WalkAmerica 2002 on Sunday, hoping they can help others prevent the shock they endured.

        When their 5-year-old son, Russell, was born at 24 weeks, he weighed 14 oz. and measured 10 1/2 inches — an inch shorter than a Barbie doll.

        The Wilmington couple received moral support from the Family Care Network, an organization of parents who have had children in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

        “Knowing somebody who had gone through it was a tremendous support to me,” said Mrs. Frazier, 35. “The week after I had him I was seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. It was nice to have encouragement that it will get better.”

        The Fraziers joined the Family Care Network a year after Russell was born.

        The couple, with Russell in tow, were at the starting line with the network on Sunday morning at Sawyer Point. It was their third WalkAmerica.

        A night of severe thunderstorms worried organizers, but skies cleared and 6,500 walkers stepped off for the six-mile walk to the sounds of Katrina and the Waves' Walking on Sunshine.

        An estimated $600,000 will be raised by five regional walks this month: Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Clermont County, Butler/Warren County, Northern Kentucky and Scioto County.

        Dubbed “the walk that saves babies,” money raised will be used for research on the causes of pre-term labor, educating pregnant women on signs of pre-term labor and helping health-care providers find better ways to identify women at risk.

        Mrs. Frazier had a major complication of severe preeclampsia, called HELPP syndrome, which triggered Russell's premature birth.

        Russell was on a respirator for almost two months at Good Samaritan Hospital.

        “It was just so overwhelming,” said Mr. Frazier, 47. “First, it was a matter of life and death. Then, it was a matter of wait and see. Then it was a long time waiting for him to gain weight.”

        Ninety-five days after Russell was born, he was discharged at 3 lbs., 10 oz.

        Russell, who has been diagnosed with mild autism, is in preschool at Town & Country MRDD in Clinton County.

        “He does well in preschool,” his father said. “He likes to jump on a trampoline. He loves to swim. He's a regular little boy.”


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