After what she went through, Krista Long is thankful to be the mother of a healthy, happy 8-year old son, Jordan.

“He’s a stubborn, little amazing guy,” Long said.

But when Jordan was born 13 weeks premature and weighed less than 2 pounds, making it to his eighth birthday wasn’t guaranteed.

“It was an emotional roller coaster,” said Long, who works in downtown Dalton at her parents’ gift shop, Raspberry Row. “You have good and bad days and you celebrate every ounce gained.”

Because of her experience, Long is now active in WalkAmerica’s “Walk to Save Babies” event that raises money for the March of Dimes’ efforts to prevent the leading cause of infant deaths, premature birth.

Dalton’s walk is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Dalton State College. Registration begins at 9, and team photos are from 9 to 9:30. It costs nothing to walk and the event is open to people of all ages.

“We have not been able to have a team every year but we have either walked or had T-shirts made every year,” said Long, who learned about the walk from nurses taking care of her son. “I think the March of Dimes does an excellent job making more people aware of the problem and what can be done through research.”

The four-mile walk will begin on the Dalton State campus rain or shine. Walkers travel on a circuit down Walnut Avenue and Tibbs Road, then back to the college.

Teams raise money for the battle against premature birth during the year through events such as yard sales.

Jennifer Brooks, surgery coordinator at the North Georgia Women’s Center, said she and her teammates have been involved in the event for five years. Treating women with premature babies is something the staff at the center see more often than they would like.

Brooks said their team always has fun at the walk. About 12 people walk and others work at their spirit booth, which provides snacks and water to walkers.

“There are lots of activities,” she said. “People can come and bring their dogs and walk them. It promotes family and it’s a good cause.”

Doughnuts and coffee will be provided in the morning and a lunch of hot dogs and sandwiches will be served, according to information from WalkAmerica.

According to the organization, each year more than half a million babies are born premature and some 120,000 babies are born with potentially disabling birth defects.

“The babies in our area need our help,” said Dr. Elaine Larmon, chairman of the local event. “By being a part of WalkAmerica, we can help save babies and give hope to families. We can help give all babies the gift of a healthy start.”

For more information, visit www.walkamerica.org or call (678) 564-5231.

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