Local couple knows vital impact the March of Dimes can have

The Newton family is the Indiana March of Dimes Northeast Division Ambassador Family, and is a proud supporter of the March of Dimes March for Babies.
The Newton family is the Indiana March of Dimes Northeast Division Ambassador Family, and is a proud supporter of the March of Dimes March for Babies. Photo by Matt Murphy.

The Indiana March of Dimes has scheduled the annual March for Babies for Saturday, May 1, at Hier's Park in Huntington.

The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding the cause of both birth defects and premature births. It supports research in a variety of biomedical fields and supports neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) - special intensive care units for infants.

For one local family, the impact of advanced research in premature births has been all too vital.

Jenny and Chris Newton, of Huntington, have dealt with the hard-hitting effects of a premature birth - three times.

Each of their three children, Haley, age 6, Ella, age 2 and Zachary, 14 months, were all born at least six weeks early, and each spent time in the NICU.

"I have no explanation of why all of my children were born early," Jenny says. "The only risk factor I had for prematurity didn't develop until after my first daughter was born. It was that I had a prior premature birth."

Haley came into the world nine weeks early at 3 pounds, 7 ounces. Ella was six weeks early at 4 pounds, 6 ounces. and Zachary was 15 weeks early at 1 pound, 13 ounces.

Both Chris and Jenny attribute their children's survival to the advancements in technology in recent years.

"Several years ago, we wouldn't have been able to keep a baby as young as they were," Jenny says.

Due to the Newtons' first-hand experience with premature birth and the importance of advanced neonatal technology, the March of Dimes asked the Newtons to become the "ambassador family" for the Indiana March of Dimes' Northeast Division.

"We're the local face of the March of Dimes for now," says Jenny.

As an ambassador family, the Newtons speak at fundraisers, distribute flyers and information about the March of Dimes and overall promote the organization.

"But it's something we would've done regardless," Chris adds, citing the importance of the March of Dimes to his family.

Both Chris and Jenny hold firm in their support of the March of Dimes and its mission.

"Its impact is vital," Jenny says. "It's a great organization, they're very well organized."

The local March of Dimes March for Babies will begin at 2 p.m. May 1, with check-in at 1 p.m. for the four-mile walk.

Participants usually walk as teams, and raise monetary support for the March of Dimes. Walkers can earn prizes for each level of fundraising achieved.

Individuals can register online at www.march forbabies.org, by phone at 800-525-9255 or through a paper form available at some local businesses.

For more information on the local walk, contact the Indiana March of Dimes Northeast Division at 482-4201, or write to March of Dimes, Northeast Division, 303 Stable Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46825.

Complete caption: The Newton family is the Indiana March of Dimes Northeast Division Ambassador Family, and is a proud supporter of the March of Dimes March for Babies. All three of Chris and Jenny Newton’s children were born prematurely, and all three recovered and are healthy, thanks in part to advanced neonatal care technology, which the March of Dimes supports. Pictured from left to right are Jenny, Ella, Haley, Chris and Zachary.