Ordinary families doing extraordinary things to help babies
People sharing their story across the country to raise awareness
Volunteers showing others why it is so important to get involved
Spotlight on Joshua Hoffman
Meet Joshua Hoffman
Joshua Hoffman of Plantation, Florida was born so early and with so many underdeveloped organs that doctors could not say whether he would survive — or if he would ever walk, talk, see or hear. Today, the 9-year-old is proud to have served as the March of Dimes 2010 National Ambassador.
Joshua’s mom, Melanie Hoffman, recalls, “My first minutes of motherhood and I was completely devastated. My husband, Lee, and I couldn’t be more terrified, and I was positive that after just 24 hours I had no more tears left.” Joshua was born more than 4 months too soon, weighing 1 pound, 11 ounces.
The Hoffman family credits the research and treatments funded by the March of Dimes with helping Joshua overcome his premature birth. He spent 3 months in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at Baptist Hospital in Miami, Fla., and had many surgeries and treatments, including heart surgery, laser eye surgery and blood transfusions.
As national ambassador, Joshua and his family help to raise awareness that premature birth is a common problem with serious health consequences. November is Prematurity Awareness Month®, and the family is urging everyone to visit www.marchofdimes.com/fightforpreemies to help raise awareness and support research into the causes of premature birth.
“Premature birth can happen to anyone, and when it does happen, it exacts a huge toll emotionally, physically and financially on families,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “We are grateful to the Hoffman family for sharing their amazing story.”
Today, Joshua has slight visual impairment and a low field of vision. But that hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves most – photography, singing and playing the piano, reading, and giving speeches at March of Dimes events. His father, Lee, says, “Our hearts still skip a beat every time we see Joshua smile, hear him talk and laugh and feel his strong hugs and soft kisses.”
Premature birth has increased more than 36 percent in the last 25 years in the United States, and now affects 540,000 babies annually. It is the leading cause of newborn death and costs the nation more than $26 billion annually in health care costs, according to the Institute of Medicine.
As 2010 National Ambassador, Joshua and his family traveled the country to 20 states and over 60 cities throughout the year to share his inspiring story and encourage families and companies to join them in making sure all babies get a healthy start in life by participating in the Signature Chefs Auction and other special events.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more information, visit marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org. To follow Joshua as he travels the country, visit Joshua’s blog at http://www.joshfightsforpreemies.com/