We’ve had a whirlwind six days. This last weekend, we were in Boston for a wedding. Before that, as my dad mentioned, we were in Washington DC for two things – to talk to Congressmen & women on behalf of the March of Dimes (I’ll write more about that tomorrow), and to attend an awards ceremony that honored members of the March of Dimes community.
The March of Dimes contacted me last month to let me know that team March for Maddie was one of the top five family teams in the country. I was blown away – I knew we’d raised a lot of money, but I had no idea we were one of the top teams in the country. They arranged for Mike and me to come to Washington DC for their Volunteer Leadership Conference which culminated in an awards ceremony. I found out about a week before that I would have to give a speech at the ceremony.
At the awards ceremony, Mike and I met the President of the March of Dimes, Dr. Jennifer Howse. She thanked us profusely for our work and told us how sad she was about Madeline. The whole time, I kept thinking how she really should be thanking the countless people (because I literally lost count after the 3,000th donation came in) that gave because of Maddie. It was at the awards ceremony that I found out that I was the number four adult walker/fundraiser in the country, and most importantly, that Team March for Maddie was the number one family team for all of 2009.
In my speech, I talked about how generous people had been in the weeks after Maddie passed. Many people gave to a fund that was started in my family’s name (the money we used to start Friends of Maddie). But thousands and THOUSANDS of people gave to the March of Dimes in honor of Maddie, not only to our team, but to the over sixty teams started in her name. All told, over $100,000 was raised for the MoD because of my daughter. And while I am so humbled that my beautiful toddler could inspire people to give money during tough times, I am still angry that she had to inspire anything at all.
One of the causes of death on Madeline’s death certificate is prematurity. I won’t be satisfied until every baby, including Maddie’s little sister, is born healthy and on time. I am determined that Maddie’s death won’t be in vain. No parent should have to hold their child’s death certificate. So to all of you, THANK YOU for your donations. THANK YOU for starting your own teams and walking for such a worthy cause. THANK YOU for remembering my daughter and other babies like her that didn’t get a healthy start. Because of you, other babies WILL. I accepted that award for Maddie, but it was really for all of you, and there just aren’t words that express how grateful I am to each and every one of you.