The Alexanders (left to right, Chris, Christian, Shannon and Kaiman) will serve as the 2018 March for Babies ambassador family alongside the 2018 chair, Ashley McClellan, CEO at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas.

HOUSTON, JAN. 24, 2018 — As part of Birth Defects Prevention Month, March of Dimes has announced that Ashley McClellan, CEO of HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division-affiliated The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, is the chair of its 2018 March for Babies, set for May 6 at the University of Houston.

“I am so proud to be the chair of the upcoming 2018 Houston March for Babies,” McClellan said. “As a mother whose professional career is devoted to a hospital that delivers more babies in Texas than any other, I can’t think of a more important cause than the March of Dimes mission to lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Above all else, HCA is dedicated to the care and improvement of human life, and so is March of Dimes.”

“We’re delighted to have Ashley on board to serve as our local March for Babies chair,” said March of Dimes Houston market executive director, Darcie Wells. “Her passion and commitment to helping moms and babies will be a tremendous factor in driving the success of our event. March for Babies raises critical funds to help tackle the biggest health threats to moms and babies.”

About 380,000 babies, or one in 10, are born prematurely in the United States annually. Almost 41,000 of those are in Texas, a staggering 10,685 in Houston alone. Premature birth (before 37 weeks) is the leading cause of infant death in the United States. Those babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems, including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays. In addition to the human toll, premature birth accounts for more than $26 billion annually in medical and societal costs, according to the National Academy of Medicine.

The Alexander family of Missouri City will be this year’s walk ambassador family. Mom Shannon Alexander knows first-hand the importance of supporting March for Babies. “Our first son, Christian Isaiah, was born at 29 weeks in 2011, and weighed just over three pounds. Christian spent two months in the NICU at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas before going home, and March of Dimes was there to help our family through such an emotional time,” she said.

The Woman’s Hospital of Texas is the only hospital in Houston that has a full-time March of Dimes NICU family support program coordinator. “Having Angela Martinez, a licensed social worker from March of Dimes, on site at the hospital was incredible,” Alexander explained. “She brought us materials on what to expect while we were there and what we could expect after he was discharged.”

Fourteen months later, tragedy struck the Alexanders. “Our second son, Cameron Troy, was stillborn at 38 weeks. I wanted to know how this could have been prevented, if at all,” Alexander said. “Once again Angela was there and she reintroduced me to March of Dimes. I learned about all of the things that the organization was doing to prevent things like this from happening. My family and I thought, what better way to celebrate our preemie and remember our angel than to do something that could possibly help prevent this from happening to other babies?”

Last year, Houston’s March for Babies, the largest in the country with over 30,000 attendees, raised just under $2 million. As chair, McClellan is dedicated to surpassing that figure and has invited other local businesses and community leaders to join her in supporting March for Babies. “The number of babies born prematurely here in Texas and nationwide just is not acceptable,” she said. “It takes leaders of our community working together to ensure that more babies are born healthy.”

More than 20,000 companies nationwide are participating in 2018 March for Babies, which will take place in about 500 communities. The event is sponsored nationally by Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna, HCA Healthcare and Pampers. Locally, March for Babies is sponsored by HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division, H-E-B, and Reliant Energy. The participating HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division employees from its 14 Houston-area hospitals will march as a group to show their support for the cause.

Information on how to sign up for March for Babies, start a team with co-workers, family or friends, or make a donation, can be found at March For Babies.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. By lobbying for policies to protect them, working to radically improve the healthcare they receive, pioneering research to find solutions to the toughest problems and empowering families with the knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies, March of Dimes builds on an 80-year legacy of impact and innovation to support every mom and every baby. Visit our websites March Of Dimes and Nacersano.  For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit Peristats. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

About HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division and The Woman’s Hospital of Texas

HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division is a comprehensive network of 17 hospitals, nine outpatient surgery centers, emergency centers and diagnostic imaging facilities. It offers a complete continuum of specialized health programs and services that meet the needs of greater Houston, Corpus Christi and South Texas’ residents and businesses. Since 1976, The Woman’s Hospital of Texas has been the state’s premier facility dedicated to the health and well-being of women, newborns and children. Located near the Texas Medical Center in the heart of Houston, The Woman’s Hospital of Texas offers expertise and outstanding care in breast health, imaging, gynecology, obstetrics, high-risk pregnancy, neonatology, minimally-invasive surgery and pediatric care. For more information, visit online at Womans Hospital.