Luke Sims and family will be ambassadors for March of Dimes

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The Sims family, Wendy, Matt and baby Luke, will be the 2013 Barrow-Jackson March of Dimes Walk for Babies ambassador family. The walk is set for April 26, 2012, at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder.

By KATIE JUSTICE, kjustice@clickthepaper.com

Almost one in eight babies in the United States is born prematurely, according to the March of Dimes.

In effort to spread awareness and garner support, Prematurity Awareness Day was celebrated Friday, Nov. 16. Participants were encouraged to “wear blue jeans for babies.”

Teachers at West Jackson Intermediate School donned their blue jeans and a sticker for the March of Dimes. At the Town Hall of Braselton, supporters bought and wore “Blue Jeans for Babies” T-shirts in addition to their jeans.

Prematurity Awareness Day marks the start of the March of Dimes for the year 2013. Team sign-up has begun with the kickoff slated for 6 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the Braselton-Stover House.

The 2013 Barrow-Jackson March of Dimes March for Babies will be held Friday, April 26, at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder. The 2013 ambassador is Luke Sims, son of Matt and Wendy Sims, was born Nov. 23, 2011 — 10 weeks premature. The child, who had been expected to arrive on Jan. 1, 2012, weighed only 1 pound and 15 ounces.

“He fought hard and is a miracle,” said Barrow-Jackson March of Dimes committee member Michelle Gilreath.

Now Luke is one year old and healthy, and will be with his parents at the March of Dimes kickoff Jan. 31 when they tell their story to participating teams.

“We chose this family as Matt was born and raised in Winder and Wendy is from Jefferson. They are very special family and we have kept in touch with them over this last year in hopes they would accept this ambassador role for us,” said Gilreath.

The Sims will participate in the Dec. 1 Jefferson Christmas Parade, the Dec. 2 Commerce parade and the Dec. 15 Winder parade.

This upcoming year marks the 75th anniversary for the March of Dimes. The foundation got its start with Franklin Roosevelt’s creation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in 1938, which later became the March of Dimes.

According to the March of Dimes, the money raised supports programs within the community to help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies and fund research to find answers to the problems threatening babies.

“The Georgia Perinatal Chart has just been announced, and we have decreased prematurity in Georgia from 13.8 percent to 13.02 percent with a goal of decreasing prematurity to 9.6 percent by 2014,” said Barrow-Jackson March of Dimes committee member Michelle Gilreath.

The Barrow-Jackson March of Dimes provides several services in both Barrow and Jackson counties to both mothers-to-be and premature babies including: providing folic acid to mother’s to be; providing surfactant to preterm babies, which promotes lung maturity; and neonatal intensive care unit support to families that have a preterm birth.

The goal for the 2013 March for Babies is $65,000, with between 75 cents and 77 cents of every dollar raised going to support research and care.

Donations can be made at www.marchofdimes.org, or groups can form teams to host fundraisers and participate in the March for Babies in April.