Highland Lakes girl named March of Dimes ambassador

Mountain Creek COO to be Skylands chair

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NEWTON — A 2 year-old Highland Lakes girl who was born 14 weeks premature and weighing just 1.21lbs has been selected as the 2018 March of Dimes Skylands Ambassador. At the same time, business and community leader Jason Bays, chief operating officer of Mountain Creek Resorts, has been named chair of Skylands March for Babies.

In Sussex County, Skylands March for Babies will take place on Sunday, April 29 at 9:00am at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. Register at marchforbabies.org.

In 2015, Andrea and Robert Cottrell-Rodriguez were anticipating the arrival of their daughter by years end. But their baby Sylvia arrived at only 25 weeks weighing less than 2 pounds. She experienced a pulmonary embolism, necrotizing enterocolitis which required 3 surgeries, 6 blood transfusions and retinopathy of prematurity that required laser surgery and spent 147 days fighting for life in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

“Serving as the ambassador family is a way for us to show our gratitude for March of Dimes-funded programs that helped Sylvia,” Andrea said. “We March for Babies because when communities work together, even the toughest problems can be solved.”

Sylvia and her family will walk and share their story this spring at the Skylands March for Babies and again in the fall at Wallkill Regional High School for their annual Supernight event to benefit March of Dimes.

Jason Bays, 2018 chair, knows how important it is to lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies.

“ I can’t think of a more important cause,” he said. “When you March for Babies, you make a statement about the world you want to live in–one in which healthy moms and strong babies are a priority for us all.”

Jason will be speaking during opening ceremonies at March for Babies and has rallied a large team from Mountain Creek to walk.

“When you participate in a March for Babies, you’re raising critical funds to help tackle the biggest health threats to moms and babies, such as those the Cottrell- Rodriguez family experienced,” says March of Dimes Senior Development Manager, JoAnn Bartoli. “We’re so excited to have Jason on board to serve as our local March for Babies chair, He shares our commitment to moms through every stage of the pregnancy journey, even when everything doesn’t go according to plan. March for Babies is a day for everyone to join together to hope, remember and celebrate at our walks nationwide.”

March of Dimes gives 4 million babies born each year the best possible start. Nearly half a million of them, like Sylvia are born prematurely or with birth defects. Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in the U.S. and pregnancy-related death has more than doubled over the past 25 years. From advocacy to education to research, we’re working to level the playing field so that all moms and babies are healthy.

Jason Bays says he is asking other local businesses and community leaders to join him to support March for Babies. “The number of babies born prematurely here in New Jersey and nationwide just not acceptable,” he says. “March of Dimes is empowering families with programs, knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies.”

Last year in Sussex county, March for Babies raised near $80,000, an amount Jason wants to surpass in 2018. He has made the commitment to raise $18,000 as part of the overall campaign goal of $90,000.

The March for Babies community bands together to fight for the health of all moms and babies. We raise funds and awareness so that we can solve even the toughest problems. Every March for Babies participant is a leader who has the power to make a huge difference for families. Start a team with your company, family or friends. You can also donate directly.

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family. Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

The 2018 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, HCA, Cigna, Pampers and regional sponsor Publix Super Markets, Inc. In our community, March for Babies is sponsored by Mountain Creek Resorts and Franklin Sussex Auto Mall.

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