Moms march to give back

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Aug 29, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Rep. Joe Sam Queen holds Callie and Jorja Medford during the 2013 March for Babies event. The Medford twins were the ambassador children for the event, and Queen was the chairman.

More than 200 people trudged along the Lake Junaluska pathway Saturday to support March of Dimes and premature babies everywhere.

Moms, dads and plenty of babies in strollers circled the lake during the annual March for Babies event, which raised nearly $4,500 that morning. Proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes, an organization that improves the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Twins Jorja and Callie Medford were the ambassador children for the event. Their mother, Rhonda Hambrick of Maggie Valley, said the girls were born at 23 weeks, and had to live in the hospital for the first four months of their lives. The twins are now three-years-old.

“Today means everything to me because I’ve watched them overcome so many hurdles they said they would,” Hambrick said. “When you go through and have a normal life, you don’t understand what goes on in those first five months. I got so much help. I’m just trying to give back what was given to me.”

Hambrick said March of Dimes had been a blessing to her and her twins.

“When you’re in there and see all those babies with those challenges, it makes your heart want to do whatever it can to help them,” she added.

“It was hard watching them struggle for life for so long,” said Calvin Medford, the twins' father. “But they’re just normal daddy’s girls.”

Though Callie and Jorja are doing well seeing a nutrition specialist, Hambrick still foresees a challenging future for the girls. Callie struggles with lung problems and Jorja suffers from minor brain damage. The two are a behind in the development process and likely will have learning difficulties. Despite the obstacles, Hambrick sees her girls as miracles.

“They were given a 10 percent chance of survival,” Hambrick said. “They probably will be small, but I hope they will be healthy eventually. It ended up being not as bad as it could have been.”

Joe Sam Queen, a representative of the N.C. House of Representatives 119th District, was the 2013 March for Babies chairman this year.

He deemed the March of Babies event on Saturday as a big success.

“Our goal is to raise $40,000, and I believe we’re on the way to making it happen,” he said, mentioning that the lead sponsor, K-mart had contributed $10,000.

Queen said supporting March of Dimes was a benefit to families everywhere.

“Every baby wants to be healthy, and every family wants a healthy baby,” Queen said. “Anybody who’s had a family or neighbor with an early birth knows how important March of Dimes is to give the child a healthy start.”

Amy Tiller marched in the March for Babies event with her eight-year-old twins Emma Grace and Aleck, who were born at 27 weeks old.

She said it was the second time the twins had been able to walk next to her during a March of Dimes event.

“Without the March of Dimes, they wouldn’t be here,” Tiller said while fighting back the tears. “Now they’re healthy and right on track in their school level. I’m very thankful for all that the people did before, and this is a way to give back.”