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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Corps raises money for prenatal clinics

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March to the Brazos

The Corps of Cadets will participate in the 39th annual March to the Brazos Saturday to raise funds for March of Dimes, an organization that advocates for prenatal health education and research. 

As the largest student-led March of Dimes fundraiser in the nation, March to the Brazos has raised over $2.3 million since its beginning in 1976, said Lt. Commander Lee Hassman, Corps of Cadets training officer and board member of the Brazos Valley chapter of March of Dimes.

Hassman said the 18-mile march serves as an important fundraiser tool and an informal transfer of rank between the cadet class years. 

“There is a variety of ways we raise money,” Hassman said. ‘Each company has a website and you can donate that way as well sometimes we will go door to door asking for donations.” 

 Hassman said the money raised can help prevent premature births and aid families with financial struggles. Hassman said he has a personal understanding of how difficult health care costs are for families. 

“I am a disabled veteran, and I know how expensive health care is, but I can’t imagine what the cost are that are associated with that end up being within an ICU or neonatal unit,” Hassman said. “We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars and that is crippling on a family.”  

Breanne Gorbutt, community director of the Brazos Valley chapter of March of Dimes, said a portion of the money raised by March to the Brazos will go toward current university research efforts.

“Research is being done right here in Aggieland,” Gorbutt said. “A portion of the money that is raised is staying here to do research, and we are one of about a dozen places that can say that.” 

March of Dimes of the Brazos Valley annually appoints a local ambassador family to share their story within the community in an effort to gain local support.  

Chanika Smith, University Dining Services dietitian and the mother of the 2015 Brazos Valley March of Dimes Ambassador Family, said she understands firsthand the struggles associated with the birth of a premature child.  

Smith said she first discovered March of Dimes after spending five weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit with her son Roman, who was born 10 weeks early.

“When you’re a preemie parent, you are very terrified,” Smith said. “You don’t know when you are going to get that call saying, ‘He’s gone’ or ‘He’s taking his last breaths.’ When my husband and I would ask doctors questions, they would tell us about all of this research that had been funded and supported by March of Dimes, and it was exciting.” 

Roman, who is now four years old, is relatively healthy and few complications remain after his difficult journey.  

“Roman is a fighter,” Smith said. “He was born at three pounds and six ounces, but he doesn’t know any of that. He just knows he is independent and can do anything.” 

Smith said by sharing her story, she is now able to provide support to parents who go through similar circumstances.  

“Sometimes when you’re a parent with a premature baby, you feel as if you are all alone, that this is your fault,” Smith said. “With March of Dimes, we are able to go around and show support by sharing Roman’s story.”   

Smith will be a part of the dining services staff that will serve the Corps in Duncan Dining hall Saturday.   

“It is really exciting to be a part of something so personal to me,” Smith said. “It’s a celebration that we survived. These babies are true heroes and have shown that they can really make it through anything.” 

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