OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last Saturday would have been the annual March for Babies event at Werner Park, which usually draws in around 3,000 people.
But because of the coronavirus, like many events, the March for Babies has had to adjust.
“I’m encouraging all my teams to still go out and walk, as a team, as a family," said Kristin Schemahorn with the March of Dimes. "And post to socials media. Tell everyone why you’re walking, and its a good opportunity to still ask for donations.”
Schemahorn says this year, around $90,000 has been raised to improve the health of mothers and babies.
“It’s not anywhere near what our original goal was. Once COVID hit, we definitely took a hard hit with the fundraiser.”
Though the funds may be low this year, the organization is still dedicated to helping local families.
One family who has benefited from the March of Dimes is the Royal family, which was chosen as this year’s ambassadors for the walk.
Gina Royal says she donated to the organization as a child, but she got to really know the March of Dimes after losing her son Desmond who was born at 29 weeks old.
“After we lost our son, we had a lady at the hospital who came and gave us information about different counselors and things like that," Royal said. "And March of Dimes actually came to talk to us. And that’s how I kind of got acquainted with the March of Dimes.”
A year and a half later, the Royals found themselves in the NICU again when their twins Savannah and Cheyenne were also born early. Throughout their five week stay, the family was visited by the March of Dimes almost every day.
“Even if they talked to you the day before, they would still come in and ask how your kids were. Which I thought was amazing, because it is a very hard time in the NICU."
With the two healthy girls by their side, the Royals say they plan to walk this weekend in memory of Desmond, and to support programs and research for premature babies and their families.
Amid the pandemic, the March of Dimes is offering virtual support groups for families who find themselves in the NICU, as well as offering supplies and education for expecting mothers.
“Moms and babies, still need us now, if not more than ever," Schemahorn said. "Pregnancy doesn’t stop. Babies are still being born."
The March of Dimes hosted a virtual event on Facebook and their website on Friday, thanking those who donated and giving more information about how they are continuing to help families.