Expecting a baby is often the most exciting time in a couple's life but it can also be one of the most stressful. One reason being that everyday 1,280 babies are born prematurely, that's according to the March of Dimes Web Site. It's because of this statistic that around 2,500 local residents participated in the March of Dimes Annual Walk America Saturday.
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"Caroline is awesome," says Eric Pierce.
And she already has her mom boasting about her future success.
"She's going to be the first female president," says Melissa Pierce.
But Caroline is extraordinary because she's come so far in such a short amount of time.
"She's definitely a fighter," says Eric.
You see Caroline was born ten weeks early, weighing in at only three and a half pounds. Due to her early arrival Caroline underwent a variety of medical treatments including a blood transfusion.
"I was scared at first to be honest," says Eric.
"She was in the NICU a month and so that was pretty rough," says Melissa.
The Pierces say Caroline's path to recovery was made less rocky due to the loving guidance provided by the staff here at Covenant.
"The staff at Covenant is amazing. She had good nurses, good doctors and so it wasn't nearly as hard as it could have been," says Melissa.
So a year later the Pierce's continue to walk together, but now they are walking for a cause, one that they know can help other families in their situation. It's a reason why the Pierce's raised $2,100 for the March of Dimes Annual WalkAmerica. It's money that will allow for continued research into preventing premature births and raising awareness of prenatal care.
"My hope is that by the time Caroline has kids that maybe they'll understand some of the reasons why babies are born prematurely," says Melissa.
But Saturday's walk holds an even deeper meaning for the Pierce's. That's because today they are also celebrating Caroline's first birthday and it's in this way that the hope to celebrate for years to come.
March of Dimes officials estimated that around 2,500 people participated in today's walk. Last year the walk raised around $190,000 and officials are estimating the event will raise around $215,000 this year.