NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Thousands are expected to take part in this Sunday’s annual March of Dimes March for Babies.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond recently sat down with a Brooklyn high school teacher whose students helped him through the toughest time of his life.

The joy of discovering he was to be the father of twin girls soon turned sadness for Michael Skrilow of Queens.

“Our doctor really told us, the exact words were ‘don’t get attached,'” he told Diamond. “We just did a lot of praying, a lot of crying and we just kind of held fast that they’re gonna both make it. And Zoe’s a fighter and Abby’s a fighter and that’s just what was gonna happen.”

One twin was growing while the other was fighting to survive.

“It’s possible that this day that they’re born could be a funeral,” Skrilow said.

It was an ordeal too painful for Skrilow to share with his honor students at the Eagle Academy in Brownsville.

“I would actually come in at seven in the morning and just cry for an hour before they came to school,” he told Diamond.

Student Joel Rembert, 16, said he picked up on it.

“We started to ask him questions and everything and then he finally just let it out to us because we knew something was wrong,” he told Diamond.

Skrilow’s twins were born nine weeks early and Zoe weighed just 2 pounds, but they thrived. To celebrate their first birthday, Rembert and his classmates have raised more than $3,000 in honor of the girls and their teacher for the March of Dimes.

“No other parent should go through what he went through. No other parent should experience this type of pain. If something can help, might as well go for it,” said Rembert.

CBS 2, WLNY 10/55, WCBS News Radio 880, WFAN Sports Radio 66/101.9 FM, WCBS FM 101.1 and Fresh 102.7 are proud sponsors of March for Babies.

Nearly 500,000 families are effected by prematurity each year in the United States. Premature birth is still the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive may have lifelong health problems.

To donate, click here.

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