Attorneys gear up for 'March for Babies'

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Attorneys Jackie Cook and Nancy Kuemin are getting teams ready for the Sunday, May 1 "March for Babies," an annual fund-raiser for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

They and their teams will join more than 7 million people - families, friends and work colleagues in 900 communities across the nation - walking to celebrate, honor or remember babies and children who have touched their lives.

Since the first March for Babies in 1970, $2 billion has been raised to support programs that help mothers have healthy, full-term pregnancies, and fund research to find answers to problems that threaten babies.

The Ann Arbor Chapter, serving Washtenaw, Livingston and Monroe counties, will hold events from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, May 1, at Hudson Mills Metropark, Kensington Metropark, and in Monroe.

Cook, an associate attorney with Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, and her family team will be walking for the second year at Kensington Metropark in Milford. Cook also is a captain of Miller Canfield's corporate team.

On February 5, 2009, the mission of the March of Dimes became a passion for Cook and her husband Aaron, when their son, Brady Alexander, was born 8 weeks early at 32 weeks, weighing just 3 pounds, 14 ounces. He was born within a week of Cook being diagnosed with severe preeclampsia after an uneventful and smooth pregnancy.

Brady spent almost three weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"It was overwhelming and emotional spending the first weeks of Brady's life in the NICU watching him through a glass partition hooked up to tubes and wires, but we are now so blessed to have an amazing two-year old who talks and walks just like any other healthy toddler," Cook says.

The Cooks' second son, Chase - now a healthy 6-month-old, was born 3 weeks early after Cook developed gestational hypertension in the third trimester that developed into mild pre-eclampsia.

"Having gone through two high-risk pregnancies, I'm a huge supporter of the March of Dimes and want to do everything I can to support MOD in its mission to research reasons behind preterm complications and to educate parents about healthy pregnancies," Cook says.

"As a mother of a premature baby, I know how critical the March for Babies fund-raising events are to the March of Dimes. Because of our experience, we want to make sure that no other parents go through what we did."

Cook graduated from Hillsdale College in 1999 and from Cooley Law School in 2005. She has been an associate attorney in the State and Local Tax Group at Miller Canfield in the firm's Detroit office since 2006.

Kuemin is team captain of "Super Nate & the Fantastic Bean," and part of the March of Dimes Family Teams Committee for the walk at Hudson Mills Metropark, 8801 North Territorial in Dexter. She has been working on this committee for three years, and this is her team's 5th year walking.

"We're expecting about 3,000 participants overall at the Hudson Mills walk. This year, we have 81 Family Teams registered to walk so far, which is very exciting," she says.

Registration at Hudson Mills begins at 9 a.m., followed by the walk at 10 o'clock.

"We'll have all sorts of family fun out at the park, including a rock wall, bounce houses, lots of giveaways and food," Kuemin says. "The walk is a 3-mile loop on a paved path, perfect for strollers, wagons, and scooters. Lots of people bring their dogs along too - just make sure to keep them on a leash."

Along the walk, there will be four checkpoints where people can get a drink, play games, and even get doggie treats. Near the beginning of the route will be several tents, including the Family Teams tent.

"At our tent, we'll have a craft, a chance to write thank you notes to our local NICU staff at Holden/Mott (U-M) and St. Joe's, and a special tree where people can fill out notes to attach celebrating our preemies, our angels, our kids born with birth defects, and our healthy babies.

There will also be a tent near the stage where we are inviting people to remember babies who have been lost. We'll have balloons that families can write notes on, and we'll have a moment of silence and balloon release during the opening ceremonies."

Kuemin said her two children - Sabine and Nathan - look forward to the walk all year long.

"We're really looking forward to it again this year," Kuemin says. "It's a very special day where we give thanks for the wonderful care our son, Nathan, received at Mott, where we celebrate his full term big sister, Sabine, and where we remember our baby who was never born. We're so grateful for all of the research funded by March of Dimes in time to benefit our preemie, and we know there is much work to be done."

Other March for Babies events will take place on April 30 in Battle Creek, Hines Park, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Lapeer and Traverse City; on May 1 in Detroit, Genesee County, Metro Beach, Jackson, Monroe, Port Huron, and Troy; in Muskegon, Hastings and Kalamazoo on May 7; Midland on May 14; and Bay City/Saginaw on May 15.

For more information, visit www.marchforbabies.org.

Published: Thu, Apr 28, 2011

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