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'Skate with Sasha' a birthday to help save babies

By Mary Louise Speer, Quad City Times

841 days ago   Article ID# 1530876
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March of Dimes

DAVENPORT, IOWA (Quad City Times) - Sasha Baker smiled as she held hands with friends and circled the rink at The River’s Edge on Sunday during a fundraiser for the March of Dimes.

Although she seems tiny, even when perched on silver blades, Sasha has grown by leaps and bounds since being born at 26 weeks gestation in 2006. Full term is 40 weeks.

Her mother, Shari Baker of Bettendorf, said her baby was about the size of a dollar bill and weighed about 1.5 pounds.

Sasha’s early birth was “completely unexpected. We were just hoping she would come home,” Baker said. She marked her 6th birthday at the “Skate with Sasha: A Birthday to Help Save Babies” benefit. (Her birthday was in February.)

Before Sasha was born, the family had experienced the loss of a baby born at 20 weeks. The difference of six weeks, research by the March of Dimes, especially with lung development, and Sasha’s spunky spirit helped her pull through, her mother said.

Sasha has some thyroid issues, but those are treated with medication, Baker said. Otherwise, she’s a healthy child who enjoys kindergarten, skating and other activities.

Baker and her husband, Conrad, are the parents of Sasha, Aaron, 13, and Maya, 10. Maya recalls seeing her sister for the first time at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.

“She was tiny, and she had a whole bunch of tubes around her. We could touch her a little bit, but we had to wash our hands,” Maya said.

The family celebrated Sasha’s first birthday at the ice rink, then known as the Quad-City Sports Center. Maya watched her baby sister stick a hand in the cake. Asked if she planned to do the same thing again, Sasha responded with an indignant “No!”

Money from Sunday’s skating party will be donated to Sasha’s March for Babies walk team. The March of Dimes March for Babies takes place April 28 at Bettendorf Veteran’s Memorial Park. Makenna Wilson and her family are the 2012 March for Babies Ambassador Family.

Deena Bradford, division director for March of Dimes Mississippi Valley Division, said the skating event and walk are important tools in helping the organization fund programs that help babies begin healthy lives. “Our mission is research,” Bradford said.

Her favorite part of the job is getting to know children who are born prematurely and watching them grow up. The causes of prematurity and birth defects vary, but mothers who lack prenatal care, who don’t get enough folic acid in their diets, who develop preeclampsia, who smoke or who drink alcohol are more likely to have pre-term babies.

Bradford said about 450 people participated in last year’s walk, but she’s expecting 650 walkers for the 2012 event.

Copyright 2014 Quad City Times   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 841 days ago   Article ID# 1530876

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