FAYETTE, IOWA (February 20, 2007) – For the third consecutive year, Upper Iowa University has signed on to be the March of Dimes (MOD) WalkAmerica hero sponsor representing Northeast Iowa. Other area sponsors include Bank of the West, Decorah Bank and Trust, Fred Carlson Company, Gundersen Lutheran-Decorah Clinic, KCRG-TV and KDEC 100.5 FM.
The kickoff luncheon for the 2007 campaign was held at Elks Lodge in Decorah on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Brett DeVore, coordinator for the NE Iowa MOD WalkAmerica and UIU Logo Store manager said, “We have outstanding community support here in Northeast Iowa. Several companies and organizations have been long-standing sponsors and the amount of community involvement in the area is phenomenal. My personal goal is for us to raise $40,000 this year for healthier babies.”
DeVore introduced this year’s host family Ryan and Misti Shawver from New Hampton. Misti presented her son, Jack’s story, who was born premature. He weighed only 2 lbs. 8 oz. at birth and spent 71 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Rochester. She also introduced her mother, Kathy Rosendahl, who works for Fred Carlson and has been an active participant in the Northeast Iowa walk for the past eleven years.
“I walked along side of my mom for seven of those years and never once thought I’d be here today talking about my own experience of having had a premature baby,” said Misti. “There is nothing that one does to cause a premature birth; it just happens.” Misti’s pregnancy was a molar pregnancy, which is a twin conception with one of the embryos developing into a tumor. It is a rare occurrence, but Misti was fortunate in that the tumor was actually a separate conception with its own placenta and so did not have an adverse affect on Jack.
The Shawvers expressed gratitude to all the medical staff and services made available to them during this experience. During their son’s incubation, they stayed at the Ronald McDonald house for 69 days, costing only $10 per day. “It was equivalent to a four-star hotel,” said Ryan. “Although we paid our bill, the nurses were insistent we let them know if it would cause any financial hardship. In that case, the entire bill would have been forgiven.” They also received daily taxi vouchers paid for by Wal-Mart, baby toys and gifts from local 4-H groups, and evening meals donated by local community groups.
The March of Dimes states that premature birth is the number one cause of newborn death and continues to be a growing problem, affecting over a half million babies each year. Funds raised by WalkAmerica go toward research into how to prevent premature births; education on prevention of premature birth; providing information and emotional support to families of babies in intensive care; professional health care assistance to better detect women at risk; and continued advocacy for expanded access to health insurance for mothers and babies.
The Northeast Iowa WalkAmerica will be held in Decorah on Saturday, April 28. Walkers can register at Decorah High School at 8:30 a.m. with the actual Walk beginning at 9:00. To find out more about WalkAmerica, go to www.walkamerica.org.