- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

Little Abram Davidson, of Alexandria, Va., was the size of a loaf of bread when he was born nine weeks premature almost two years ago. At 13 inches long and 2.5 pounds, medical science gave him little chance to see his first birthday.
Yesterday, clad in a bumblebee costume, Abram, now 21 months old, was among the thousands of toddlers, moms and dads who took part in the March of Dimes 31st annual WalkAmerica.
The marchers walked more than five miles along the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin to show their support for the estimated 450,000 babies like Abram who are born prematurely each year.
"Abram is definitely a miracle, " said his mother, Jocelyn Lambert-Davidson, as she walked along the Mall pushing him in his stroller. "Its a very special day for us today."
The walk around the Washington Monument grounds was one of several in the region. There were four marches in Northern Virginia and three in suburban Maryland.
Last year, the marchers raised more than $760,000 for the National Capital Area Chapters March of Dimes. The chapters goal this year is $850,000.
The annual walks raise money to prevent birth defects, low birth weight and infant mortality. According to the organization, babies born preterm are 12 times more likely to die in their first year of life than those born full term.
Mrs. Lambert-Davidson said she believes Abram would not have lived without the care her son received at the Georgetown University Hospitals neo-natal intensive care unit, one of the March of Dimes medical advances in treating premature babies.
Shortly after birth in July 1999, Abram developed a serious lung disease and spent five months in the hospital, two of which were on life support, before coming home in November 1999.
"It was just horrible, " Mrs. Lambert-Davidson said as she strolled along the Mall. "It was like a roller coaster ride emotionally."
Now Abram is on the road to full recovery. He is expected to outgrow the lung disease by the time he turns 8 years old.
"This march is important because it helps women come together and connect one family at a time, one community at a time, " said Maria Gomez, executive director of Marys Center for Maternal and Child Care in Adams Morgan.
Linda Mulhauser, a March of Dimes board member, agreed. "It brings families together and different generations together," she said.
The marchers began their eight-mile walk at 9 a.m. dressed optimistically in shorts and T-shirts. The sun was out, but a nippy breeze was blowing across the Mall.
Clarence and Shirley Taylor walked with their 15-month-old son, Cody, to show their support for the cause. "We want to do our part in trying to erase future birth defects, " Mr. Taylor said.
Richard and Maggie Thomas hurriedly pushed their two grandsons, Greg and Lydell, in their strollers on the gravel path along the Mall as they tried to catch up with the rest of the marchers along the Mall. "Were just walking for the sick who cant walk today, " Mr. Thomas said. "Were walking for the babies."
The marchers headed east toward the U.S. Capitol before making a right on Fourth Street and turning onto Independence Avenue. They then proceeded to walk around the Tidal Basin before ending their trek at the Lincoln Memorial.
Actress Vanessa Williams, who stars in the Showtime networks "Soul Food" and is the organizations 2001 celebrity spokeswoman, and 6-year-old Justin Lamar Washington, the March of Dimes 2001 National Ambassador, also attended yesterdays event.


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