Bay Ridge

Quagliones turn March of Dimes walk-a-thon into family affair

April 15, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kerry and John Quaglione, with their daughter Natalie Grace, have walked in the March for Babies each year since 2013. The Bay Ridge couple plans to do so again this year. Photo courtesy John Quaglione

Every time Kerry and John Quaglione look at their three-year-old daughter Natalie Grace, they feel incredibly lucky to have her.

Natalie Grace was born on October 19, 2011, two months premature, and weighed four pounds, two ounces at birth. The Quagliones, who live in Bay Ridge, couldn’t take their newborn home for two weeks. The first-time parents had to visit their infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at The New York Methodist Hospital, where the baby was kept in an incubator, attached to a spider web of tubes.

They named the baby Natalie Grace. Natalie is the Italian word for Christmas, John Quaglione explained, and the baby was supposed to have been born at Christmas time. They added Grace to her name because they believe her life has been filled with grace.

The loving care that Natalie Grace received at the hospital, along with the emotional support they were given by the hospital’s staff, has always remained close to the hearts of the Quagliones, who remain grateful to this day.

One of the ways John and Kerry Quaglione give back is by taking part in the annual walk-a-thon sponsored by the March of Dimes. Called the March for Babies, the event is set to take place on Sunday, April 26, in the Lincoln Center area of Manhattan, starting at 10 a.m. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is the honorary chairman of the March for Babies. The event is a key fundraiser for the March of Dimes.

The Quagliones will be joining thousands of other participants in the march.

“This year we are walking and fundraising for March of Dimes for the third time. It’s something that I think and hope to do every year to come,” Kerry Quaglione, assistant principal of P.S. 127 in Bay Ridge, wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle. “It’s important to our family because it’s a way for us to never forget how lucky we are to have Natalie be the joy that she is. It keeps us connected to the stories of the families who had much harder roads than we did. And lastly, it helps raise money and awareness for a wonderful organization whose work provides families with hope and little miracles.”

The Quagliones, who have been taking part every year since 2013, have organized “Team Natalie Grace” and have already collected funds and pledges of donations for the March of Dimes.

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The couple was recently named to a Top 10 list of March for Babies fundraisers for New York City having amassed close to $1,900 for the cause.

Founded in 1932, the March of Dimes provides assistance and support for families with premature babies. The organization also provides funding for research into the causes of premature births.

“It’s a really great organization and they do a lot for people,” John Quaglione told the Eagle. “We wanted to find a way to give back and figured this was a good way to do it.” Quaglione is the deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn).

John Quaglione wrote about the couple’s experience as new parents, coping with the stresses of having a premature infant, on the March of Dimes website. He was particularly impressed, he wrote, with The New York Methodist.

“Everyone was cheering for her, and everyone’s love and support helped us get through a tough time. And now, as she is three and a half and the best part of our lives, we are so grateful to the doctors, the nurses, the staff, our families, and so many who helped us along the bumpy road we started on,” he wrote.

His wife expressed a similar sense of gratitude in her email to the Eagle.

“A lot of the almost two weeks we spent in the NICU is a blur, except for three things. The first, of course, was how becoming a mother changed my heart in ways I could never have understood.  The second was the humbling feeling of how lucky we actually had gotten considering the circumstances we had just been dealt. And the last was the stories of all the other babies and their families that we got to meet and the miracles that the doctors and nurses were providing them,” she wrote.

The Quagliones also donate funds to The New York Methodist Hospital.

For information on how to donate to the Team Natalie Grace effort in the March for Babies, email [email protected] or visit https://www.marchforbabies.org/march/s_team_page.asp?SeID=2227328&

 

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