Couple to lead March for Babies

Beacon Falls residents Lauren Hill and Daniel Lapinski are pictured with the daughter, Ella, after she was born premature in 2013. Hill and Lapinski received support from the March of Dimes and will serve as ambassadors during the March for Babies event May 1. –CONTRIBUED

Beacon Falls residents Lauren Hill and Daniel Lapinski are pictured with the daughter, Ella, after she was born premature in 2013. Hill and Lapinski received support from the March of Dimes and will serve as ambassadors during the March for Babies event May 1. –CONTRIBUED

BEACON FALLS — A local couple wants parents of premature babies to know there is support out there.

Beacon Falls residents Lauren Hill and Daniel Lapinski will serve as ambassadors during the March for Babies event at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury. The event, which benefits the March of Dimes, is May 1.

“This is the largest and greatest honor my family has received. We are so honored and thankful,” Hill said.

The March of Dimes is a national nonprofit organization that works to end premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.

Although the couple’s story has a happy ending, it started out with a medical emergency.

The couple’s daughter, Ella, was born on Dec. 26, 2013. She was 11 weeks premature. At the time of her birth, Ella was only 1 pound and 4 ounces, Hill said.

“When she was born she was only 13 inches. She was just bigger than a ruler,” Hill said.

Ella had to spend the first 57 days of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury and Yale-New Haven Hospital, Hill said. Complications arose while Ella was in intensive care, and at one point doctors had do restart her heart, Hill said.

It was during Ella’s time at Yale-New Haven Hospital that the couple met a coordinator for the March of Dimes and first learned about the organization.

“We didn’t know anything about [premature babies]. I have a huge family and all babies came out regular birthweight,” Hill said.

Hill said it was difficult sometimes to understand the doctors because they used medical terms that the average person might not understand. The March of Dimes coordinator helped lay everything out in an easy-to-understand way.

“They gave us books that could help explain everything,” Hill said. “They gave her a hat. It is hard to find even doll clothes to fit a baby that small.”

Now, at the age of 2, Ella is a normal child with no lingering medical conditions, Hill said.

“She is incredibly outgoing. She loves to dance. She thrives in any learning environment. She lights up the room as soon as she walks in,” Hill said.

After having gone through the experience of having a baby who was born premature, the couple has been a champion for the March of Dimes and its cause. This will be the second year Hill has participated in the March for Babies.

“We are so glad to be part of such a huge organization that not only helped our family, but helped so many families,” Hill said. “I treasure them for what they have done for us and I want to give back.”

The March for Babies is a 3.5 mile walk. Hill and Lapinski will share their story at the event then lead the walk along with Ella and their team, “Ella Zina Preemie Power.”

Hill is trying to raise $5,000 for the organization leading up to the March for Babies. People can donate online at www.marchforbabies.org/ellazsmom.

Registration for the walk begins at 10 a.m. and the walk begins at 11 a.m. To register or for more information, visit marchforbabies.org/event/greaterwaterbury.

In addition to raising money, Hill hopes that the couple’s role as ambassadors for the event will raise awareness of the March of Dimes.

“I want people to know, especially pregnant women, that there is an organization that will help them and support them,” Hill said. “Even through everything we went through and everything that comes after, and it is the scariest thing you ever go through, with the March of Dimes research we can all get through this together. There is help and support out there for you.”