Grateful Mom Credits March of Dimes

Article excerpt

Byline: AbScalf Daily Herald Staff Writer

When her son Andrew was born 11 weeks premature and weighing only 2.14 pounds, doctors told Erika Rivera he might not live.

"I was a very scared young mother, worried if my baby is going to live," said Rivera, a Waukegan resident.

Andrew stayed in a neonatal intensive-care unit for two months. He received oxygen therapy, blood transfusions and a process called lung surfactant therapy, which manufactures surfactant to help the lungs develop. Today, Andrew is a happy, healthy 20-month-old.

Rivera later discovered the March of Dimes played a big part in giving the treatments that kept her son alive.

Serving as an example of how the March of Dimes can improve a baby's life, Andrew will be the walk ambassador in the 1999 Lake County WalkAmerica. The event will be Sunday at Adler Park in Libertyville.

Rivera said she is grateful to the March of Dimes. She said not only did the organization help save her baby's life, but it helped save babies of her friends.

"I can give back and help them and support what they did," Rivera said.

Walks will occur in about 1,500 locations across the country, most taking place Saturday or Sunday. Forty-four walks will be organized by the March of Dimes Chicagoland chapter, which serves all of Illinois and northeast Indiana.

Ed Schultz, director of communications for the March of Dimes Chicagoland chapter, said linking a walk ambassador to the event is a way to encourage people to get involved. The event's coordinators took suggestions on a local resident who could best serve this role as ambassador.

"If every community has someone they could say they were walking for, it might encourage them and inspire them to raise more money and get more people involved," Schultz said.

In addition to her son serving as an ambassador, Rivera plans to get a group of family and friends as well as members of her church, Trinity Assembly of God, to join the walk.

The March of Dimes, which started in 1938, is the No. 1 voluntary organization dedicated to the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality, Schultz said. It carries out its mission through research, education, community services and advocacy. …