Hundreds of participants help raise $800,000 at Pittsburgh March for Babies Walk

PITTSBURGH — March of Dimes, the leader in the fight for the health of all moms and babies, kicked off its 54th annual March for Babies Walk on Sunday at the North Shore. Hundreds of people came together to support one another on their parenthood journies.

Sunday was John Bricker’s 50th March for Babies walk and his first in Pittsburgh. The Harrisburg native started walking for March for Babies in 1971 before he had children, but when his twin sons were born, the walk became personal.

PHOTOS: Crowds fill Pittsburgh’s North Shore during annual March for Babies charity walk

“One [of the babies] was no problems. One had a lot of physical difficulties. He had many, many surgeries and died out of Birmingham, Alabama, at the age of three,” Bricker said. “My wife said, ‘what are you going to do about the March of Dimes?’ And I said, ‘I’m going to raise more and more money so their parents don’t go through what we went through.’”

In 50 years, Bricker has raised $900,000.

March for Babies is the largest fundraiser for the March of Dimes and the nation’s oldest charitable walk. Participants in Pittsburgh’s event raised more than $800,000 for education, training, and research so moms and babies get the best possible start.

“The United States, unfortunately, is one of the most dangerous developed nations in the world for childbirth,” said Jim Hoga, from March of Dimes. “One in 10 babies is born too soon, and two babies die every hour.”

According to March of Dimes’ annual report, which measures the state of maternal and infant health in the U.S., the nation’s pre-term birth rate is a D+ Grade, with a pre-term birth rate of 10.4%. One in 10 babies in the U.S. will be born premature, and about 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications — making the U.S. among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth. Pennsylvania earned a C+ in March of Dimes’ 2023 Report Card, with a pre-term birth rate of 9.6%. The study found 15.5% of Pennsylvania residents have inadequate prenatal care, and the pre-term birth rate among Black women is 1.5 times higher than the rate among all other women. There has been no improvement in the disparity ratio for pre-term birth.

This walk aims to improve these outcomes and gives families who have lost loved ones an opportunity to unite.

“We want to let everyone know they’re not alone,” Hogan said. “This happens more often than it should, and we’re trying to prevent that.”

For Bricker, who was surrounded by family and honoring his son Greg, who passed away, it’s a walk that’s been going on for 50 years and counting.

“I met some other parents who lost children, and I don’t want to say we’re a select group, but we’re a group of survivors,” he said. “We’re doing whatever we can so other parents don’t go through what we went through.”

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