Local family shares story of premature birth

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) - A March of Dimes walk in Onalaska Saturday is highlighting one family's journey having a baby born too soon.

For the Gentry family, meeting their first born four months early wasn't something they planned for.

"We were due June 21st so you don't think March 4th is even a possibility."

After medical complications, one-year-old Piper Gentry made an early arrival at 1 pound and 10 ounces.

"And we spent 105 days in the NICU."

The Gentry family explains it was a tough experience that brought on a set of new challenges.

"How are you going to do this, you know it's all so brand-new when you have a baby but now you have different challenges, the feeding is different, the changing is different."

But after more than three months of touching their baby through the glass, Piper made it home on Father's Day weekend last year.

"Having our family together for that first special occasion really meant something and you know we're just excited to be a family and be together and move on."

Now known as "Pistol Piper" for her determination and strength in making it home, the March of Dimes walk in Onalaska is raising awareness on the leading cause of death among babies in the U.S.

Like Piper, more than 300,000 babies are born premature each year.

But organization leaders are hoping to someday find a solution.

"Most of them we don't know why. We don't know why women go into labor and we want to figure out why because there are babies that are born preemie, that could survive if they were able to just have a little bit more time with their mom before they're born."

"Just the fact just to be with her, it's nice not to have to touch her through a hole or through a glass just being with her is pretty great."

The Gentry family say they are thankful for all of the love and support they have received and they're hoping to now help other families going through the same experience.

Saturday's March of Dimes fundraising goal was $21,000.


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