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Family honors children by fundraising to save babies’ lives

Local Mother, Father, and Daughter Marching to Raise Awareness of Premature Birth

April 12, 2015
Reinbeck Courier

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa A Cedar Rapids couple is honoring their children by

raising awareness and funds to support premature birth research. Dale and Suzanne Felton will walk alongside their daughter McKenna, and hundreds of others at the Cedar Rapids March for Babies event on April 26, 2015.

The most urgent infant health problem in the U.S. today is premature birth. Every year, more than half a million babies are born too soon, 4,600 of them right here in Iowa. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities.

The complications of premature birth hit close to home for the Feltons. In 2005, Suzanne became pregnant with the Felton's first child. She rushed to the hospital when her water broke at 25 weeks gestation. A few hours later their son Ian was born by c-section. He weighed just one pound and 12 ounces.

Ian underwent several tests, but despite the medical team's best efforts, a doctor pulled Suzanne and Dale aside to tell them they were concerned that their son suffered a major brain bleed and would not survive. Dale and Suzanne had a chance to hold Ian and say goodbye before their son passed away hours later.

After undergoing a series of tests and finding nothing unusual with Suzanne's health, the couple became pregnant a year later with their second child. When Suzanne's water broke again at 25 weeks the couple feared the same outcome for their new baby. Their daughter, McKenna, was born at the same gestation and weight as their son, Ian. "I was absolutely terrified walking through there again because it was a place that had caused so much pain and grief in our lives," said Dale. "I had to have an extreme amount of hope for our daughter."

It took 112 days in the NICU for McKenna to grow healthy enough to go home.

"It was a very long road for us," said Suzanne. During her stay in the NICU she received surfactant therapy, ventilator support, blood transfusions, and medicines to help her develop.

The Feltons will walk alongside their daughter, who is now a happy, healthy nine year old with a plethora of favorite activities including dance, piano, and Girl Scouts. "We're very blessed with how healthy she is," said Suzanne. "[She] does not have any long term issues that most preemies can face."

This will be the family's 10th year participating in the walks and their first year as the Ambassador Family. To date, the family has raised a total of $17,603 towards their $20,000 goal to fund premature research. When asked why they walk, Suzanne said,

"We don't want people to forget about babies like Ian and to see the great work [March of Dimes does]. So we always say 'to honor Ian, to celebrate McKenna,' that's why we walk every year."

Dale added, "I firmly believe that if it wasn't for the discovery work that the March of Dimes has done and everything that they do for small babies that we wouldn't have McKenna with us today."

The Felton's fundraising page is located at

To see a video of the Felton's story visit

The Cedar Rapids March for Babies event kicks off at 9:00 AM at the Rockwell Collins Headquarters. Registration for the event opens one hour earlier.

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or



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