The March of Dimes, founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat polio (initially as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis — NFIP) has championed several worthy causes throughout its history. After its first successful mission against polio, the organization emphasized prevention of birth defects and followed that with a focus on healthy pregnancies. Most recently, prevention of prematurity has been its target, with the Prematurity Campaign Collaborative which began in 2017.
Premature birth is the number one cause of death for babies in the United States. Of the yearly 380,000 premature babies born, many who survive have long-term health problems — with moms and dads feeling the bulk of that impact. And it’s easy for fathers to feel especially helpless, hopeless and forgotten.
The organization recently hosted a special live Facebook event, Celebrating Fatherhood. Among the dads participating were comedian and actor Rob Huebel; Chris V. Rey, International 1st Vice President, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity; Jesse Ray Spivey, Creator, The Doudad; Tarrynce Robinson, ED.D, Southwest Regional Vice President, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Ted Yang, serial entrepreneur, preemie dad and author of Table For Five.
Yang (who is also an owner of Daily Voice's parent company, Cantata Media) and his fellow dads joined with the March of Dimes to support fathers on their journey.
Yang knows the struggle of prematurity all too well. As discussed in his memoir, Table for Five, A Father’s Story of Life, Love and Loss, his own journey to fatherhood began when his triplets were born at 24 weeks. Tragically losing one son, Raymond, Yang and his wife spent the next four years fighting for their daughter to breathe normally. It was only after several surgeries that Sofia was finally able to take a breath on her own through her mouth and nose.
Did Yang receive support from hospitals and doctors during those years? Not in the way he needed at the time. That is precisely why the March of Dimes, Yang and his family, want to bring awareness to the organization’s mission and give all dads the help they need.
"I wrote my book, Table for Five, because the dad's story is not a story that's out there," said Yang.
The most satisfying part of writing Table for Five, according to Yang, is knowing that it has helped others.
"To me, the most rewarding part is hearing stories from families. One mom, for instance, wrote, 'I understand somewhat more of what my husband was going through.' Another father wrote, 'Hey, thanks for doing this for us.' That's exactly why I wrote this book."
No two dads are alike, but the March of Dimes has kept all dads in mind by offering education, resources and support. Visit March of Dimes for more information and Celebrating Fatherhood for the webinar.