Hundreds of Utahns join March of Dimes to help fund research into premature births

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-14 23:26:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of families walked in the March of Dimes Saturday to raise money for research into premature births.

Salt Lake City’s March of Dimes 5k walk happened Saturday morning in Sugar House Park.

Parents and children stepped out, supporting research on the high rate of premature babies born in Utah.

“She is the reason we walk,” said David Harrison, a father who attended. “My wife went into pre-term labor at 24-weeks, and she was born at 34 weeks.”

“It’s really emotional for me because my daughter was premature, and I know we want to help other babies,” said mother Jamie Harrison as she described what they went through with their daughter, Ashlynn.

Ashlynn is now 5-years-old and doing well. Early on, she was in the NICU for 24 days with complications, and it was a tough time for Jamie.

“Leaving Ashlyn in the hospital and going home without her, and it was just really hard knowing she had to stay there, knowing she was sick,” she said. “We just wanted to bring her home.”

Like hundreds of others families walking, the Harrisons are raising money for new research. They have raised more than $10,000 so far.

“We need to continue to raise awareness,” David Harrison said. "If we stop now, then the research stops, and we are not going to be able to change anything.”

Julie Drake, Programs Director for the March of Dimes, said about 5,000 babies are born prematurely in Utah every year, which is about 9.1 percent of all births. The goal nationally is to bring the number down to 8.1 percent.

“We just hope to help people have healthy pregnancies,” Jamie Harrison said.

About 30 percent of all the money they raise here at the local March of Dimes chapter goes to the national chapter for research, but Drake said a lot of it comes right back here for research in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah.

To donate to the cause, click here.