March for Babies 2022 aims to raise critical funds for families after preterm birth complications

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mothers, babies and countless supporters walked in Grant Park Sunday for a greater cause as they raised critical funds for preterm births.

"Thank the Lord the rain held off and we got the walk-in, and these little guys running around here are why we do what we do," said Karrie Friedenberger with Team Tiny Feet.

Every year in the U.S., about 360,000 babies are born preterm, creating problems for their own well-being and their mothers.

That's why this cause is so critical, already raising more than $367,000 this year to directly help these families.

"They require intensive medical treatment. Our child spent 12 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit learning to breathe and to eat, and they had to grow. They were a pound and a half at birth," Friedenberger said.

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"It was really overwhelming and you kind of feel alone," added Jamie and Mike Knapstein.

The Knapsteins lost their twins at just 21 weeks in 2013. They also dealt with more preterm complications when having their three other daughters.

However, on Sunday, the family walked in March for Babies together -- a moment they're not taking for granted.

"My wife and I worked really hard -- and more her than me -- to make this happen, to bring these little girls into the world and to celebrate them, and to celebrate the girls that we lost with our family means a lot every year," Mike said.

Even after a baby survives preterm complications, they could face long-term health issues throughout their life. That's what makes this cause so important, uniting families everywhere.

"This is the place where we can come and feel that there's families that are all watching the same journey as us have the same experiences," the Knapsteins said.
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