NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of New Yorkers are joining the movement to help make sure every baby gets a healthy starting life.

The annual March of Dimes is set for Sunday, April 30 in New York City and on Long Island. CBS2 is a proud sponsor.

CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock will be there, along with some special guests who joined us Saturday morning. David Daly is chairman of the Long Island event, and parents Marcie and Eric Haley were joined by their 3-year-old little Lola.

Daly, president and chief operating officer of PSEG Long Island, emphasized the need to help babies who are born prematurely.

He said nationwide, about one in 10 babies are born prematurely nationwide, amounting to more than 20,000 babies a year in New York state alone.

“We do know that when a baby is born premature, that rates of birth defects, infant mortality, and sometimes health issues arrive, and so a very significant driver of health issues,” Daly said. “It’s something that the March of Dimes, through their research programs, and through the education that they provide to mothers beforehand, is really helping to drive down.”

Lola is a March of Dimes success story. Eric Haley described how his daughter came into the world.

“We were at brunch in Williamsburg enjoying a day with our dog Beatrice, and all of a sudden, Marcie started feeling what we thought were cramps. At that point, she was only 24 weeks pregnant,” Haley said.
“Quickly, those cramps got more intense, and her water ended up breaking in the restroom of the restaurant.”

The Haleys had to flag down an ambulance on the street.

“They opened the car door, and pulled Marcie’s pants down, and the crown of the head was coming out. Twenty seconds later she popped out – 1.7 pounds – and they actually thought she was stillborn at first. Twenty seconds later, she started breathing.”

The EMTs put Lola on a ventilator, and she was rushed to Woodhull Medical Center where doctors and nurses began taking care of her, Eric Haley said.

The Haleys said the March of Dimes has helped their family tremendously.

“I think the biggest thing with prematurity is that it doesn’t just end…and you walk out, and these babies that are lucky enough to survive have upward battles of developmental delays, vision problems, feeding problems – and I think the March of Dimes is an incredible support community for families who are continuing on the journey,” Marcie Haley said.

For more on the March of Dimes, click here.