It wasn’t until 10 years later that Elisa Jennings could thank the people who saved her daughter’s life. Though she wishes it could have been sooner, Elisa is now showing her appreciation through raising awareness for the nonprofit organization, March for Dimes.

On Dec. 4, 2003, Makenna Painter was born at 2 pounds, 14 ounces at Northwest Medical Center. Having been seven weeks early, the chances of Makenna’s survival were slim. The birth came as a total surprise to Elisa who had had no apparent signs of problems that may occur. At 3 p.m. at work, Elisa’s water broke in the bathroom. 

Just a little more than an hour later, Makenna came into the world and, shortly after, was transported to the University Medical Center where she underwent intensive care. While there, she was given blood transfusions, Continuing Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), drugs and more. The drug that ultimately saved Makenna’s life is called surfactant therapy, which helps babies who have underdeveloped lungs. The person who developed the drug in 1988 is an individual from March for Dimes - the nonprofit organization that Elisa is so thankful for.

“March of Dimes saved her life,” said Elisa. “She was administered this drug to help develop her lungs. It was basically what saved her life.”

March of Dimes helps support community programs that help moms have healthy pregnancies and helps fund research to prevent problems that can threaten babies. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the nonprofit organization in effort to fight polio. Although the organization helps all babies, its primary focus is to help babies who are born premature or with birth defects.

It was but a few months ago that one of Elisa’s clients asked her to be a part of a March for Dimes team. Elisa didn’t hesitate. March of Dimes was for a good cause so she had no problem helping out. Little did she know though that her story would lead the chairman to ask her to be an ambassador family for the March for Babies. Elisa agreed to do it.

For Elisa that meant fundraising, raising awareness, sending fliers and telling the story of Makenna’s birth at the event. For Makenna, taking part in March for Babies meant being featured in a commercial to help raise more awareness. One line that continues to stand out to Elisa, from the commercial, is “Every baby deserves to be born healthy.”

“I’m absolutely astounded in how they are involved. It’s every single baby,” said Elisa. “March of Dimes, at some level, helps.”

March for Babies will be held at Reid Park on Sunday, April 27. Registration starts at 7 a.m. and the walk begins at 8 a.m. Like many other days, this event will serve as a reminder to Elisa of how thankful she is for Makenna’s life.

“She’s is everything they said she wouldn’t be. She’s a straight ‘A; student, healthy and plays softball,” said Elisa. “She’s my world.”

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