NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of toddlers tagged along with their parents on Sunday morning at the March for Babies through Midtown, Manhattan.

They walked to raise money and improve the health of moms and kids, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.

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The Pershaud family joined with hundreds of other parents and kids for the march as a way to remember.

“My first son passed away when he was only 6 months old. My wife had preeclempsia and I had a choice. I was only 23. I had a choice between my first son or my wife passing away,” Mahesh Pershaud said.

March for Babies (Photo: CBS2)

Countless stories like the Pershaud’s are shared at the annual event, which is held across the country. The 3-mile walk started at Lincoln Center and ended with a rally in the Kips Bay neighborhood, all to raise money for premature birth research and work to prevent infant mortality.

“In the U.S. we have some of the worst outcomes for moms and babies. We have ising rates of premature birth. We still have challenges with respect to infant mortality and maternal mortality,” said Stacey Stewart, president and CEO of the March of Dimes.

The cause grows each year and this year star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley helped kick off the event. Himself a proud father of a 1-year-old daughter, Barkley took pictures with kids and families, and said the issue is more common than many people think.

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“You have a different appreciation when you become a father. My brother’s girlfriend’s sister had a premature son, so I know the difficulties behind that,” Barkley said.

While the march is focused on babies, it’s also about empowering mothers and their families and a chance to feel supported and know that they’re not alone.

“Kevin was born premature, seven weeks early, so I was 33 weeks,” Delia Justiano said. “Most kids, they fight … there’s little graduates of the NICU. It takes a while. Some kids make it out; some don’t. I’m honored he was able to make it out.”

“I want to help other babies and other kids,” Kevin Justiano added.

The funds will help fight for the health of thousands of moms and babies.

CBS2 was a media partner of Sunday’s event. Our own Otis Livingston was the emcee. At last count, this year’s march is on track to meet its goal of $1.5 million.

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And on Long Island, families, businesses and volunteers came together for the March for Babies event at Jones Beach. CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan was the host. To learn more about the March of Dimes and how you can donate, click here.