Edgewood family leads March for Babies walk Sunday

The Pennel family of Edgewood, is serving as the 2013 Harford County March for Babies Ambassador Family to help raise awareness about the lifesaving research and support of the March of Dimes and their team, Two Tiny Blessings, will participate in the annual March for Babies Sunday. The walk begins at 9 a.m. (registration at 8 a.m.) at the Forest Hill Industrial Airpark at the intersection of Route 23 and Commerce Road at the roundabout.

This year, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life. More than 4 million babies were born in the United States last year, and the March of Dimes has helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs.

Leslie and Kelton Pennel were so excited to become parents again when they were told they were having identical twins. They were looking forward to their growing their family. At 19 weeks, Leslie and Kelton were told their twins had TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome), which put their babies lives in jeopardy. She delivered Isabella and Addisyn at only 26 weeks, weighing 2.2 pounds, 14 inches and 2 pounds, 13.75 inches. Due to multiple complications, Isabella passed away eight days later. Addisyn remained in the NICU/Intermediate Care at University of Maryland Medical Center for six weeks, six days, and then spent 33 days at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Today, Addisyn is a vibrant 2 1/2-year-old child; her only setback being asthma and mild PDA. She enjoys playing with her older sister, Kyra, 5, watching Bubble Guppies, coloring and playing with the family cat, Oswald.

The Pennels are dedicated to making sure other parents don't have to experience what they did and if they do, they want them to know they are not alone and the March of Dimes is there to give support. The Pennel family credits the March of Dimes with helping Addisyn survive by funding research and other programs for premature babies. They want to ask other families to join them in supporting the March for Babies.

Sign up to walk and raise funds at marchforbabies.org, or call 1-800-525-9255.

The prematurity rate has decreased in our state but we have more work to do. Premature birth is the most urgent infant health problem in the U.S. and the leading cause of newborn death. Factors such as early elective deliveries are important to address. Speak with a local March of Dimes representative who can explain what the March of Dimes is doing to help more families have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

The 2013 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Macy's, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Famous Footwear, Actavis, Mission Pharmacal and United Airlines. Local sponsors include Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association and Safeway.

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