Immediately by wpr1947


March of Dimes Presents “Mission: Healthy Baby” Providing Much-Needed Support To
                                      Military Families

       PORTSMOUTH, VA SEPT. 20, 2009 – Military moms whose babies were born too
soon or too sick were treated to a very special baby shower today at the Portsmouth Naval
Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) courtesy of the March of Dimes and
Operation Shower.
       Moms and dads – who never had their own baby shower - received gift boxes filled with
baby supplies, clothing, toys, books and much, much more courtesy of March of Dimes top
corporate supporter Kmart, and many other generous donors to the March of Dimes and
Operation Shower.
       During the baby shower, the March of Dimes announced the re-launch of “Mission:
Healthy Baby,” a program designed specifically for military families to provide free pregnancy
and newborn health information and support services. The program was developed with the
Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Ladies Auxiliary VFW.
       “Having a baby is a joyful experience, but it’s also one that comes with anxiety and
concerns. Being in the military – whether as a serviceperson or as the partner of a
serviceperson – can cause extra stress,” said Liza Gene Cooper, LMSW, director, March of
Dimes NICU Family Support. “Our Mission: Healthy Baby and NICU Family Support
programs are designed to give families the information they need to cope with the stress of a
sick baby.”
       Very high levels of stress, such as the stress caused by a deployment, may contribute to
premature birth or low birth weight in full-term babies. Military moms and dads can request
“Mission:     Healthy   Baby”   materials   by   sending   their   name    and    address   to Special brochures are also available by calling 914-
       The Portsmouth baby shower was hosted by actress Wendy Davis, who plays the role
of Lt. Colonel Joan Burton on the Lifetime Television show “Army Wives.” Davis’ character on
Army Wives is a new mom and female lieutenant colonel.
                                            Actress Wendy Davis, (in red dress) of
                                            Lifetime Television’s “Army Wives,” was
                                            the event emcee. Virginia Chapter
                                            Ambassador Dad Jackie Patrick and his
                                            children Jalen & Kaylen, 8-year-old honor
                                            students, also attended (pictured with
                                            Davis). Jackie spoke about his memories
                                            of two months in the NICU with his
                                            twins. His words gave hope and
                                            encouragement to the 25 military moms
                                            who were honored.

       “Portraying Joan Burton on Army Wives has been such a fulfilling experience because
my character was blessed to become a new military mom. I am also a mother in real life. I’m
excited to participate in this special occasion because these families and their babies in the
NICU have inspired me” said Ms. Davis. “I am thrilled to partner with March of Dimes and
Operation Shower to show my appreciation as we honor these parents who put their lives on
the line for our country.”
        “Operation Shower is thrilled to work with the March of Dimes, Kmart and the other
donors of Operation Shower to help bring these showers to the military moms. We felt this fit
very well with our mission to support military families who may not otherwise have a baby
shower. We are grateful for the opportunity to support these families" said Chief Shower
Officer, Lena Morrissey.
       "'Operation Shower' is a special thing to do for military families in circumstances where
the spouse is either deployed or they are far away from immediate families," said Cmdr. (Dr.)
Robert Englert, a neonatologist and medical director of NMCP's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
"The fact that the 'operation shower' concept was developed by military spouses for other
military spouses in need is inspiring."
       The Naval Medical Center serves all branches of the military and delivers more babies
and has the most NICU admissions than any other hospital in the Department of Defense.
       Many infants in the NICU are born premature. Preterm birth is a serious and costly
health problem and is the leading cause of death in the first month of life in this country. More
than 540,000 babies – one out of every eight – are born too soon each year in the United States.
Babies who survive an early birth face serious risks of life-long health problems including,
learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, and other chronic conditions
including asthma.
        There are 75 March of Dimes NICU Family Support® sites nationwide. The program at
the Portsmouth medical center, is the first military facility to partner with the
March of Dimes to support families of babies in NICUs. The program offers education
materials, empowering support programs, group education, opportunities for parent-to-parent
support and staff education - all to help families navigate the NICU experience.
        “Kmart is thrilled to support the March of Dimes and Operation Shower," says Mark
Snyder, vice president & chief marketing officer for Kmart. "In addition to our donation, we
want to thank all of the new military moms for the sacrifices and contributions they and their
families make to better our country each and every day. This donation is part of the Kmart for
KidsSM program, which is our commitment to make it easy for all moms to take care of what
she cares about most.”
        Operation Shower is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that recognizes and honors the
sacrifices military families make by producing and coordinating baby showers for expecting
military     personnel      and     their     families.    For     more      information,      please     visit
        The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby
health. With chapters nationwide, 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

        Elizabeth Lynch, 914-997-4286,
        Todd Dezen, 914-997-4608,
        Lena Morrissey, 314.809.3754
        Deborah Kallgren, 757-953-1941,

FOR FURTHER STORIES, Photos & Video about this event, go to:

PHOTOS & VIDEO COURTESY of Stephanie Beaty at
Below are links to download images as well as a custom video/slide show. You may select the "menu" button in
the player for code to embed the show into a website/blog etc. or email the show to others. Please contact
Stephanie Beaty at if you have any problems accessing the following sites.
       Photos for Printing (full-resolution images best for printing; You may download them
        individually or in a single zip file:
   Photos for Web-sites (Web-sized images have been optimized for online applications):
   Video:

To top