As they pushed their two young children in a stroller during Saturday’s March for Babies, a Seymour couple considered themselves fortunate to have such an opportunity.
Also on Mark and Jessica Gillaspy’s minds that day were the two children they lost.
Their first child died in 2011. Then their son, Cash, who is now 3, came along and was a healthy baby. The couple then lost another baby before Gracie arrived, and she’s now almost 2.
They heard about the March of Dimes’ annual fundraiser and decided it was time to head to Seymour High School on Saturday to support the organization’s mission, which is raising awareness and funding to prevent premature births, birth defects and infant mortality.
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“It sounded like a great cause and something close to home and we could make a difference and support,” Mark Gillaspy said. “It brings the community together to support this cause, and with that, you kind of get a sense of community and fellowship.”
More than 50 people started the walk in front of Seymour High School and walked through the surrounding neighborhoods before finishing back at the school.
According to the event page at marchforbabies.org, the goal was to raise $33,000. About a third of that had been raised by Saturday afternoon.
Funds raised by March for Babies in Indiana help support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit family support programs and advocacy.
The event is conducted every year because the No. 1 problem facing babies in the United States is premature birth. It affects more than 450,000 babies each year and is the leading cause of death for children under 5, according to the March of Dimes.
Within a period of four years, the Gillaspys went through a wave of emotions, they said.
The couple didn’t know they had lost their first baby right away.
“It had passed away, and I still carried it for another month but didn’t know,” Jessica Gillaspy said. “I would say the first one was very, very hard because being a girl, I always wanted to be a mom, and it’s just something that I always thought was a given was we would have babies.”
As difficult as that was to deal with, she said having Cash soon after helped when she lost a baby for the second time.
“I had a little boy to help me that was just little still, and babies have a way of being so healing,” she said.
Mark Gillaspy said he and his wife depended on their faith and family to get through it all.
“As a father, the best thing I felt like I could do is support my wife because it’s more detrimental for her, obviously,” he said.
“If we wouldn’t have had a miscarriage, we wouldn’t have had (Cash) because this is who we had next, and the timing made that possible,” he said. “So you’ve just kind of got to look at it like everything happens for a reason, and we’ve got these two healthy kids now and maybe one more here in the future sometime.”
Beth and Jason Hamilton of Seymour also understand the importance of the March of Dimes. In 2013, their son, Joseph, was born at just 18 weeks gestation and did not survive.
On Saturday, the Hamiltons served as the Seymour Ambassador Family for the March for Babies event. Joining them on the walk was their daughter, Arielle, who is about 2 years old.
“We found out about the March of Dimes and decided to join with them and help fight for the babies,” Beth Hamilton said during the opening ceremonies. “We did not realize until we joined the March of Dimes how many people actually lose babies, so we will continue to help and walk for the babies.”
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For information, visit marchofdimes.org or marchforbabies.org.