Hundreds "March for Babies" in Downtown Panama City - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Hundreds "March for Babies" in Downtown Panama City

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The March of Dimes has dedicated 75 years to improving the health of babies around the world. But, the organization's efforts begin in communities like Panama City.

Hundreds of people flooded the streets of Downtown Panama City on Saturday morning as they "marched for babies." With every step, the group is raising awareness of premature births.

It's a cause very close to Kathy Saada's heart. "I wore this shirt today in honor of my children and grandchildren who were all born premature and you know this organization is profound. It has had a profound impact on my family," said Saada.

The March of Dimes holds a walk every year hoping to move one step closer to having "stronger, healthier babies."

"One in every eight babies in the United States is born prematurely . . . and that's epidemic, and we've got to find a way to defeat that," said James Bailey, director of communications.

Bailey also says the numbers are even higher in bay County.

"We've been able to visit the neonatal intensive care units at Gulf Coast Hospital, and I've seen these tiny babies," said Bailey.

While Saada said the organization has done so much for her family. "I had people come in when I was in the NICOP and talk to me and give me encouragement."

Kathy Saada and Amanda Houk were honored as the ambassadors of this march as teams hope to also raise close to $200,000 for research.

"It also goes for education, education that will be right here in Bay County for educating doctors to help recognize mothers who might be at risk for prenatal birth or helping mothers have a successful birth," said Bailey.

President Franklin Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes in the 1930's to help combat childhood polio. After eliminating that disease, the non-profit organization moved towards fighting premature birth rates.