While Hyacinth Holt, of Tyler, was once very concerned that a nephew of hers who was born prematurely might not survive, today she and other members of her family are much more at ease.

"He's come a long way where they said he wasn't going to make it and he made it," she said. "He's going to graduate (from high school) this year."

Gloria Mass, of Tyler, has twin nieces who were not able to spend their earliest days on earth together.

"One of them was premature," she said. "She had to stay in (a Louisiana hospital) for a while.

"They had a birthday yesterday and they're now 39 years old," she added.

Holt and Mass were just two of the dozens who showed up to walk at a March of Dimes March for Babies event on Saturday at the Rose Rudman Trail.

Organized by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the Healthy Me Healthy Babies Coalition, the event raised money for the research being used to address premature births and birth defects.

The event also provided organizers a chance to spread awareness of local resources that exist to help local expectant mothers, including the uninsured or underinsured, have healthy, full-term pregnancies.

"Prematurity is one of the main causes of death in our infants and our goal is to bring awareness to the importance of making our community a place where our moms and our babies thrive," said Tecora Smith, Northeast Texas Public Health District Women, In-

fants and Children director.

Referring to a Premature Birth Report Card issued by March of Dimes, Smith said, "Our East Texas area received a D."

"Our goal is to move our grade level from a D to at least a B, where we know when moms come here we can ensure that as a community we're supporting them with our resources and that they know where to go for help or information to have a successful pregnancy," she said.

At the event, attendees were able to learn about organizations such as the Tyler Family Circle of Care, Parents as Teachers, Nurse Family Partnership and Touching Lives Enrichment Center CDC, as well as multiple programs offered by NET Health.

"There's all these wonderful programs to ensure that moms feel supported and that our babies are being born at full term but it's bringing that awareness in our community so that (our) daughters and nieces know about the programs and have access to the programs," she said.


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