Team Duarte 4th Annual March for Babies Walk

Last weekend was our 4th Annual March for Babies walk for Team Duarte. I started this team 4 years ago, with a 14 month old daughter Lacey running around, I was 7 months pregnant with my second daughter Alexis and was trying to find a way to cope with the passing of my first born, my son, Gabriel. When my son passed away, I felt that God's plan for me was to help other Mother's to get through similar situations. I haven't exactly figured out how to do that yet, since it is still quite difficult for me to say his name. But, what I felt I could do, was do something in my son's name, in my son's honor. 

Our first year was probably the most difficult, for two reasons. For one, I felt like people wanted to know my story, "Did you have a preemie?" "Did your child survive?" The truth is, my son had a heart condition that was undetected and inoperable, I held him for a few hours. The March of Dimes foundation didn't help me, personally. But they have helped a lot of other families, and through them, I hope they have more prenatal testing, and maybe someone else wont have something go undetected.  The second reason our first year doing the March for Babies walk was difficult was because I was 7 months pregnant and the 3 mile walk was too much for me. I literally thought I was going to go into labor at the March for Babies, who's main focus is to prevent preterm labor! The irony was not lost on me! 

This year was a lot of fun. Although we had a smaller team and unfortunately didn't surpass our total from the previous year, we still raised about $1700 this year, which should bring our total in the past four years to about $5000. We welcomed a new walker Kristy, her two daughters Felicity and baby Serenity, and Gizmo. This year we had two fundraisers, the March for Babies Valentine's Day Bake Sale and a Shakey's fundraising night, which were both fun and successful and all about making memories. Next year, we hope to have a bigger team, new Team Duarte Tee shirts made, and more fundraising. 

2013 Team Duarte
Linda Martinez, Maricela Duarte, Mark Duarte, Me (Cynthia  Duarte), Debra Castellanos, George Martinez, Adriana Manzo, Melinda Martinez, and Kristy.
And Junior members, Alexis Duarte, Lacey Duarte, and Gizmo. 
Team Duarte in front of the Start/Finish line
My mom Linda, best friend Debra and my daughters Lacey and Alexis, with our Team Duarte banner that I designed. 
Alexis and her Papa
Papa decided to hold her up so she could see the USC Marching band as we were walking out through the starting line. 
Nana and Papa with Lacey and Alexis with the KMart Blue light guy. 

This year I wanted to make sure we were on time for the opening festivities and even though I was the one running late, we made it on time! We were there as they played music for the warm up, and as the always amazing USC marching band played while we walked through the starting line. 
Lexie's little legs carried her for about 50 ft, before she got back in her little car. 
 
Our furriest member of Team Duarte, Gizmo. 

Lexie looks tired, but never really walked. She was just along for the ride, the face painting, and the cotton candy. 
I love being a part of something that feels good. As you walk along the route, volunteers hold up signs with information about March of Dimes and their goal, hand out water bottles, cheer you on, and were even fanning my daughter as she ran by. I was so proud of my little Lacey, she ran most of the walk and was a pretty good shade of red because of the heat. 

It's nice to know that everyone there, is there for a good reason, for a good cause. There are two families that I remember from the walk. One was a family with triplets being pulled in their little buggies, they had a sign that read, "We were born at 26 weeks" They looked happy and healthy, well, besides the one in the last buggy, she seemed bummed to be up so early in the morning. Another family walking alongside us, had their daughter sitting atop a little wagon, and she was wearing wings. When you looked at her wagon they had pictures of a tiny baby, with tubes in her nose. They were obviously very happy to say that their daughter made it through and was now strong enough to be there and walk with them.

The whole day is just surrounded by happiness, even though their are families and teams like ours, whose babies did not make it through, we are there together, honoring his name. It's a great day to remember, celebrate life, and be surrounded by people that feel the same way. 
Donations are still being accepted, if you would like to donate to our team, here is the link to TEAM DUARTE. See ya next year March for Babies