When the Greater Arizona March of Dimes’ virtual fundraiser, March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement, goes live at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 8, a Goodyear boy who lost his twin brother shortly after birth will be leading the charge along with his family.
Luke Lubbering is a 10-year-old Belen Soto Elementary School student born prematurely with his brother, Luke.
When she was pregnant with the boys, their mother, Caralee Lubbering, was diagnosed with polyhydramnios, which led to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a rare disease of the placenta that only affects identical twins. Since twins share a placenta, what happens to one baby also affects the other.
Luke weighed 2 pounds at birth and Logan, born one minute later, weighed just 10.9 ounces. Because there was no medical equipment small enough to help him, Logan was unable to be intubated, and he survived just 1 hour and 23 minutes.
Big brother Luke spent 66 days in the newborn intensive care unit before going home with his family.
Today, Luke is thriving, his mother said, and the family’s experience fostered a passion to fight for healthy moms and strong babies.
“With preterm birth and maternal death rates continuing to rise, we need to unite, connect and fight for families now. Serving as the ambassador family is one way for us to show our gratitude for March of Dimes and the programs they funded that helped our family,” Caralee Lubbering said. “Each year, thousands of moms and babies deal with complications from pregnancy and preterm birth. But together we can make a difference to improve the health of all families. That’s why we’re so honored to be part of this movement.”
Fundraising goal for the event, which went virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is $552,000.
While teams can continue to raise funds through September, when a local celebration will be held for participants, Valerie Tichnor, donor development manager, said teams are encouraged to continue at least through the end of June.
"That is when numbers will be pulled for national celebration for team and individual awards," she said.
As of Monday, May 3, $247,485 had been raised.
The Lubberings’ Heaven and Earth Twins team, captained by Luke and his mom, had raised $5,345 toward its $7,000 goal, and Luke was listed in the top three fundraisers, with $2,768.
Even before the global pandemic hit, one woman died every 12 hours from pregnancy-related causes, and 1 in 10 babies was born too soon each year, according to March of Dimes. Additionally, more than 50,000 women experience life-threatening complications as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. Chronic inequities and unequal access to quality health care have a negative impact on these rates.
In Arizona, the preterm birth rate among Black women is 37% higher than the rate among all other women.
The March for Babies community raises critical funds and awareness to fight for healthy moms and strong babies. While the fundraiser was virtualized in 2020, the shift was actually a natural evolution to transform the event into something bigger.
Those who would like to join the Lubbering family in the cause can visit marchforbabies.org/event/Arizona, where they can learn more about the March for Babies, sign up a team or make a donation.
Signature sponsors for this year’s event are Bashas’ and 3TV Arizona’s Family. Other sponsors include GM Financial, Mercy Care, Cigna, Dignity Health, MedOne, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Raising Arizona Kids, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, Sonora Quest, United Healthcare, Telemundo and COX Communications.