Tampa March of Dimes walk raises $200,000 for moms and babies

For the 35th year, FOX 13 was the proud media sponsor of March of Dimes March For Babies Tampa Bay, happening at George M. Steinbrenner Field for the first time. 

Nearly $200,000 was raised for the non-profit that advocates and supports mothers and their infants before and after birth. 

Mother Leah Smith and her husband Scott will never forget the panic and shock they felt on Mother's Day weekend of 2021 when Leah suddenly entered preterm labor.

READ: March of Dimes gives premature Tampa baby a fighting chance

"I woke up in the middle of the night, essentially covered in blood, so that was scary, and then my husband drove me to the hospital at like 4 in the morning," Leah recalled. 

The Smith family leaving the NICU

"It was a trying day, and it was a trying couple of months, but we got through it, and we have a beautiful child," Scott added. 

Their son Ashton was born 11 weeks early at 29 weeks, weighing just over three pounds. 

He spent 51 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph's Hospital before he could go home. 

"We're so fortunate that he had relatively few complications and was a pretty smooth ride, and he's very healthy today," Leah added. 

MORE: March of Dimes ambassador family describes ‘scary’ experience after baby born prematurely

The Smiths credit March of Dimes for helping them through the ups and downs of Ashton's journey into the world and were even last year's ambassador family. 

Walkers raise money for the March of Dimes.

Walkers raise money for the March of Dimes.

On Saturday, they walked hand-in-hand at Steinbrenner Field to help raise awareness for continued research and resources available to moms and their infants.

"Everyone's story is so incredibly different, and their journey hard sometimes, and the things that they've overcome...it really does inspire my team," said Executive Director Austin Simon. 

You can still join FOX 13's Joneé Lewis for the March For Babies Polk County walk at the lawn of First Presbyterian Church, 175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland, on Saturday, April 29.