KALAPAKI BEACH — Jordan Miller was totally enjoying his experience at the luncheon, exploring the fascinating “blinkies,” peering through the guard rails, and ending everything with a healthy helping of ice cream.
He was only there, though, because of the help he got from volunteers and leaders of the March of Dimes.
Miller, born to Lori and Ivo Miller of Wailua, was a premature birth, coming into this world 14 weeks early.
That was nearly five years ago, and during the kickoff luncheon for the upcoming WalkAmerica event at Duke’s Canoe Club at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Lori Miller told the gathering of team representatives and event committee people, “Jordan has truly defied all odds. His survival is a miracle.
“He will be 5 years old on July 4th, and will be entering kindergarten this fall.”
Premature birth is just one of the areas that March of Dimes researchers spotlight, noting that the organization’s leaders and volunteers are committed to a sustained campaign, and will invest at least $75 million in research and education to fight premature birth.
When Jordan Miller was born, Lori Miller said he was just a little bigger than a Beanie Baby stuffed animal.
“I was forced to deliver him at my 26th week in pregnancy due to a rare form of preeclampsia called H.E.L.L.P. Syndrome,” she told the group that included Kaua’i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste.
Following a bout with being sick, and upon being told that she looked “yellow” to her husband Ivo Miller, Lori Miller was rushed to the emergency room, and five hours later, at 9:18 a.m. July 4, 2001, Jordan Miller was delivered.
“I didn’t get to see Jordan again until day two,” Lori Miller said. “I remember feeling very sick, still. But, one thing I was certain of, was Jordan was the most beautiful, and tiniest baby I had ever seen.
“He seemed extraordinarily strong, and not for even one minute did we think he was not going to make it,” Lori Miller said.
Jordan Miller spent the first 75 days of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and upon the suggestion of one of the neonatalists, spent a lot of time listening to his parents sing, read, and talk to him.
Lori Miller explained that Ivo Miller believes in the healing power of music, and one of the first things he did was to record himself singing and playing music. He brought the recorder to the hospital, and recorded Lori Miller reading a story to Jordan Miller.
This tape was played by the nurses in the NICU when the parents were not able to be with him.
“Our family’s outcome is better than the increasingly-heart-breaking losses experienced by many families,” Lori Miller said.
“Through the efforts of the March of Dimes, research and technology will continue to improve the health of all babies, as long as funds exist to support it. Through national events like WalkAmerica, babies are given a healthier chance,” she said.
On Saturday, April 8, hundreds of walkers will take off from Lydgate Park for the 36th Annual WalkAmerica event, hosted by officials and volunteers of the March of Dimes.
The walk will take place at different dates for each of the different islands, with Kona starting the circuit on April 1. Following Kaua’i, Maui MOD officials and volunteers will host their walk on April 22, and O’ahu will finalize the Hawai’i participation on April 29.
Charlotte Casey introduced herself as this year’s walk coordinator, and distributed packets for members of teams to start their fund-raising efforts in preparation for the April 8 walk.
Nationally, WalkAmerica takes place in 1,400 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
WalkAmerica, the walk that saves babies, is the largest March of Dimes fund-raiser.
The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing premature births, birth defects and infant mortality.
In Hawai’i, more than 2,300 babies are born premature each year, out of 17,000 that are born, or over 13.5 percent of all babies. Seven hundred babies are born with birth defects, and 130 babies die before reaching their first birthdays.
Officials and volunteers with the Hawaii Chapter of the March of Dimes are working with professionals Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children to provide information, emotional support, and comfort to members of families who experience the hospitalization of their babies in the NICU.
Local sponsors for the WalkAmerica event include Central Pacific Bank, Atlas Insurance, KPMG, Kustom Sounds, Duke’s Canoe Club, Hilo Hattie, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Midweek, Finance Factors, Ernst & Young, University Health Alliance, Panasonic, Mark’s Place, Kmart, ABC Stores, and Continental Airlines.
Kaua’i WalkAmerica Committee members include Casey, walk coordinator; and Mary Jo Sweeney, Edie Watanabe, Lisa Mecca, Lavenda Apilado, Mark James, Janice Bond, Evie Boiser, Cathy Agoot, Michael Dandurand, Dr. William Renti Cruz, Kimberly Pasco, Virginia Beck, Gina Kaulukukui, Sally Jo Manea, and Jimmy Rosa.
For more information, people may call toll-free 1-800-272-5240, or visit the Web site, marchofdimes.com.
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com.