BENEFITING: March of Dimes Foundation
EVENT DATE: Jul 13, 2017
My Journey to Give Back
Campaign from July 13-December 31, 2017
My name is Jim Fanning. I have been a proud supporter of the March of Dimes for almost twenty years and I’m on the precipice of reaching a lifelong goal to help babies. I would like to tell you more about my family and why the March of Dimes is so important to us. I hope that in telling our story I can inspire you to help me make sure that every parent can see their child smile as widely as mine do.
Like all expectant parents, my wife Ellen and I were excited about starting our family. Ellen’s pregnancy was uneventful until our lives were forever changed in a single instant. After only 24 weeks Ellen went into labor and gave birth to our son James on April 11, 1997. His birth was 16 weeks early and he only weighed in at a mere pound and twelve ounces. Shortly after his birth, James was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence. James was simply too small to breathe on his own, so he had to be intubated immediately. We spent the next 20 tense weeks in the NICU as James fought for his life. Once he was strong enough, he was given a tracheostomy; he was just three months old. That tracheostomy (trache) would help to enable James to have a happy and healthy childhood.
James’ early years were spent in uncertainty; he had diminished speech capacity due to vocal cord paralysis. Because of this and other health complications, James had in-home nursing care for a considerable part of his childhood with a nurse stationed with him for most of his day to ensure his breathing remained normal. His early years also saw him endure over 20 surgeries, the most significant of which occurred when he was 5 and 8 years old respectively. Yet when I remember those days, what I recall most clearly is James’ resolute strength and the love that still runs throughout my family. Today, thanks to so many gifted clinicians, countless prayers, and the support of the March of Dimes, James is a healthy, if eccentric, twenty year old young man. From his small beginnings, literally, he has gone on to excel academically at both La Salle Academy and Providence College. Yet, James is not the only gift with whom Ellen and I have been blessed. On February 23, 2001 our daughter Sophia was born. She is as funny as she is beautiful. Yet none of our good fortune would have been possible without the research, education, advocacy and support of the March of Dimes. And I feel it is my duty and my honor to give back to this wonderful organization that has helped so many babies and their families lead happy and healthy lives.
Ellen and I have been participating in the March for Babies in James’ honor since he was very young. Life is certainly precious. In fact, I’ve been fighting my own battle with multiple Myeloma for the past two years. The bonds of love that ensured James’ success in his health battles, particularly during those early years, have made this difficult period of my life immeasurably easier. Yet one constant, for me, throughout has been the financial support I’ve received to help babies flourish and grow. This aid has come from many sources - my friends and family, of course; and especially the good people at my local chapter 310 Union of the Brotherhood of Utility Workers. To date, we have raised over $87,000 for our tiniest and most vulnerable babies. $87,000………That’s quite a testament to the generosity of so many I’ve come to know on my journey to give back. And I am truly honored and thankful for everyone’s support in raising these funds. From James’ challenging beginnings, it has been my goal to reach $100,000. And we’re almost there - $13,000 and counting! I’m asking you to help me reach my $100,000 lifetime goal as I, as we, give back to this organization to whom Ellen and I, and so many others, owe so much. When all is said and done, my real aim has been, and continues to be, helping other parents experience the joys that I have had in raising my children. Whatever you can contribute, I would be honored to have your support. If you want to find out how to help me and the March of Dimes in giving every baby a fighting chance, please contact the local Rhode Island office at 401. 454. 1911 and ask for Lisa, Michelle or Neil.