When Libby Erdmann was born on April 15, 2007, her chance of surviving was less than 20 percent.
The miniscule baby girl arrived 17 weeks early, weighing only one pound, three ounces. She was just ten inches long, eyes fused closed with skin thin as paper. She needed a ventilator to breathe because her lungs were so under-developed.
After 109 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which included infections, blood transfusions, and surgeries, her parents, Matt and Sarah Erdmann, were able to take their “miracle” home.
“It hasn’t been an easy road, but today she is thriving in second grade and loves gymnastics and ballet,” they said in a letter to Kalamazoo March of Dimes supporters.
The Erdmann family credits Libby’s survival with work done by the March of Dimes, including the surfactant therapy that helped Libby’s lungs function properly while they were being supported.
“Without the help of the March of Dimes, Libby would not have survived,” the Erdmann family said. “Her lungs were too tiny to work without the surfactant therapy. Libby is a fighter – she beat the odds.”
The Erdmann’s are the ambassador family for this year’s Kalamazoo March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. The event takes place on Thursday, October 23 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites in Kalamazoo from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by contacting Southwest Michigan March of Dimes Director Pat Schoenborn at 269-743-3723 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A delicious menu from 14 notable southwest Michigan chefs will tempt the palates of auction-goers. Arcadia Brewing Company, Fieldstone Grill, Gull Lake Country Club, Rustica, and Zazios are a sampling of the restaurants that will be represented. Cocktails and signature dish tasting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by a program and live auction. Attendees will have a chance to bid on a variety of group dining experiences, all for a good cause.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a sponsor of the dinner and auction. Sophia Quinn, Southwest Michigan Sales Manager, is the 2014 Honorary Chair for the event. Last year’s Signature Chefs Auction raised $126,703 for the March of Dimes.
Schoenborn said funds raised at the dinner and auction help babies like Libby, but they also work hard to ensure all babies have a healthy start. Their mission statement aims to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Research, community services, education, and advocacy are all components of how the March of Dimes fulfills those goals. They rely on fundraisers to continue their lifesaving work.
“Our fundraisers are important because that’s how we make our missions’ goals reachable,” Schoenborn said.
Schoenborn knows firsthand how critical the work of the March of Dimes is. She’s been with the non-profit for about seven months, but years before, her own two children entered the world prematurely. Her now 18-year-old son relied on the same surfactant therapy Libby needed.
“It brings it full circle for me,” she said.