The 10th annual Miracle Babies 5K will take place on Sunday, May 6 at NTC Park at Liberty Station.
Participants will receive a race medal and can attend a postrace celebration including a Kid Zone with bounce house, obstacle course, carnival games, diaper dash contest, Family Resource Fair, merchandise vendors, food trucks and exotic cars. Attendees are invited to show their spirit by dressing up as their favorite hero, anything from firefighter to Wonder Woman.
“This year, the Miracle Babies walk has special significance for me,” said Sean Daneshmand, M.D., Rancho Santa Fe resident and chairman and founder of Miracle Babies. “It marks the 10-year anniversary of our walk and falls on my 50th birthday. My greatest birthday gift is celebrating with those I love, and we invite the community to join us.”
As a perinatologist (a high-risk obstetrician), Daneshmand knows firsthand what some families go through as a premature birth can come with overwhelming physical, mental and financial challenges.
After he and his wife Marjan went through their own scare when daughter Natalie was born six months premature, the couple founded Miracle Babies in 2009.
About 500,000 babies are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) every year in the United States. Miracle Babies aims to lift the financial burdens during this time, so families can focus on the health of their newborn. The organization also works to reduce NICU admissions through prevention, education and research.
Last year Miracle Babies provided direct financial assistance to over 800 families.
Carlsbad resident Micaiah Kenney will be participating in the Miracle Baby 5K for her fifth time. A member of the Miracle Babies board for the last three years, she herself is a Miracle Baby: born almost four months premature, weighing 1 pound, 10 ounces.
Kenney spent the first 68 days of her life in the NICU in an incubator, using the “babybird,” a pediatric respirator developed by Dr. Forrest Bird. In 1974, she was the first baby at Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler, Texas to use this device to help sustain her life.
Using this cutting edge technology and spending substantial time in the NICU was costly and even with health insurance, her parents had no idea how they were going to pay for this treatment. Upon discharge at a healthy 5 pounds, her family was informed that the entire medical bill was paid for by an anonymous donor.
“Throughout the years as I grew up I wanted to find out who it was to say thank you,” Kenney said, who believes it was from a foundation set up at the hospital.
The donor information was never released but when she was 18, she put together a package to share her story of how she had grown up and beaten the odds with no neurological, vision or physical issues from her pre-term birth and sent it to the hospital with hopes it would find its way into the hands of the people who had helped save her life.
“I always wanted to give back because of the way in which I got my start and Miracle Babies has been a great opportunity,” Kenney said. “I think what Sean and Marjan do is amazing and it feels like I have come full circle to be a part of an organization that gives help to babies and families just like I had.”
While Kenney and her mother never did find out who their donor was, they have reconnected with the nurse who helped them during their stay in the NICU. The nurse, who now lives in Dallas, first connected with Kenney in March.
Kenney said she is extremely honored to be affiliated with Miracle Babies and to have been nominated for a board position. She has also brought her company, Becton Dickinson, on board to support the organization as well. Becton Dickinson, which has offices in Carmel Valley, is one of the corporate sponsors for this year’s 5K.
Kenney said she is proud of how Miracle Babies offers assistance for parents and families when routines and budgets go out the window after a baby is born too soon. The organization understands the importance of parents being in the NICU with their baby as much as possible and helps alleviate monetary burdens such as parking fees and gas, groceries and hospital meals, and childcare costs for older children.
“As a board member, I have loved seeing Miracle Babies grow,” said Kenney, who noted the organization now has affiliates in Orange County and Atlanta and is looking to get into Los Angeles. “I would love it to be something offered with every hospital that has a NICU because there’s definitely a need.”
Kenney’s mother, Laurenn Baker, is a Miracle Circle member and every year for the walk, the duo wears t-shirts that proclaim “Mother of a Miracle Baby” and “I’m the Miracle Baby.” Kenney said what is most special about the walk is having families come together every year—it can be emotional as some walk in honor of babies they have lost.
“Everyone has a story,” Kenney said, adding that everyone walking is connected, showing they all play a part in taking care of babies who are fighting for their lives.
She said the walk always includes an inspiring talk by “Dr. D,” whom she said lights people up when he talks about the work they are doing.
“The passion that the founders have for Miracle Babies is infectious,” Kenney said. “I truly do believe that we’re making a difference in all of our fundraising efforts.”
The registration fee for walkers is $30 for adults and free for children under 12. The runners’ fee is $45 for adults and $15 for children under 12. Participants are encouraged to raise funds and awareness for NICU families by creating a team and a personalized fundraising page. To register, visit miraclebabies5k.org