Jake, Josh & March for Babies (2013)

Dear Jake & Josh fans,


No, you didn't drop off our distribution list, and our support of the March of Dimes hasn't waned.


We've just been so darn busy keeping up with these guys that our annual update email – and donation request – has been delayed.


In fact, the walk is just two weeks from this weekend! Specifically, it’s Saturday, April 20, at 9 a.m., at the usual site near White Rock Lake. (Click here for our Aron Family Team donations/signup page.)


Before delving into the latest details about your favorite 23-weekers, let's talk about the other purpose of this email – bragging about the organization we know made our happy story possible, which also happens to be celebrating its 75-year anniversary (and remains the only health organization to fulfill its mission – wiping out polio, of course – before moving to other aims).


The March of Dimes’ current mission is pretty simple: making sure all babies are born healthy babies. No matter your stance on same-sex marriage, gun control or who will win the American League West, the one notion we can all agree on is that every baby should be born healthy.


Way too many aren't, though – such as those who arrive way too early, like Jake and Josh.


As our boys approach their 11th birthday, it's hard to say what is more amazing: their progress or the advancements in fighting prematurity. There's plenty more to be done, but we know the March of Dimes is leading the way.


We're also proud of the work being done at Medical City, where Jake and Josh spent the first seven months of their lives. So, this year, we are making our Aron Family Team part of the hospital's team. All this really means is that if you’re able to join us at the walk – and we hope you do! – then you will find us at the Medical City tent before and after the event. (Need that link again? Click here.)


Now, about that update …


The boys are in 4th grade, continuing to thrive medically while diverging in their personalities. The teacher in their reading class is amazed that in a classroom of only six kids, you'd never know they are brothers, much less twins … and this is the second straight year she’s said this!


Both are endlessly fascinated with a variety of things, including sports. They just enjoyed their first basketball season with their schoolmates, and are gearing up for another season of baseball. They began playing in a kid-pitch league in the fall and both took turns on the mound (Jake's a lefty, Josh a righty); we even had one game where Jake pitched while Josh played catcher.


Not to be forgotten, big bro Zac just turned 15 and is off to his best season yet in baseball. He’s also into skateboarding and ready to start driving.


Another highlight over the last year was telling our story on the local ABC affiliate. That link will take you to the videos posted on our website, which was offline for a few months but is up and running again.


Thanks for reading, thanks for your love and support over the years and thanks in advance for anything you can do to help support the March of Dimes. ( Yep, here’s the link again. )



Love,

Lori, Jaime, Zac, Jake & Josh

Jake & Josh are 11; Aron Family Team is 10 (2014)

Dear Jake & Josh fans,


Flipping through a parenting magazine one afternoon, Lori noticed an advertisement for something called WalkAmerica, a fundraiser benefiting the fight against prematurity, led by the March of Dimes.


Huh? Didn't the March of Dimes wipe out polio? What did they have to do with helping our little miracle men?


At the time, J&J were cruising toward their 3rd birthday. They were eating on their own four times a day, yet also needed to have their bellies filled by a tube-feeding as they slept. That night-time feeding represented their final hurdle on the obstacle course established by their ridiculously early birth. And, at that point, clearing it was just a matter of when. Realizing we were nearing the finish line on their precarious start to life, we were already on the lookout for the organization serving as the guardian angel over our boys and other early arrivers. Steered by this ad, we learned it really was the March of Dimes.


So on March 10, 2005, we sent our first email update in nearly a year. Waaay down in a long email, we mentioned that we'd be doing the walk and asked for donations. Within minutes, they started coming in. We ended up being honored as the top "Family Team," a term we'd never even heard. Soon we were chairing the Family Teams committee, then serving as the local Ambassador Family. Countless more incredible experiences followed, each letting us share our story and emphasize how the March of Dimes helped us have such a happy ending ... and probably helped you, too, regardless of whether you ever saw the inside of a NICU.


WalkAmerica has been cleverly rechristened March for Babies, and attendance has spiked from 10,000 to many multiples of that. Family Teams have become so important that the local office now employs a "Family Teams Specialist." In fact, that specialist spurred this trip down memory lane.


In a recent email, she noted that this is the 10th anniversary of Family Teams, and plans are under way “to honor veteran teams like yours." Yep, that’s right. Our boys are veterans. And you’re probably a veteran of our veteran team, as so many folks on our distribution list have been around since the very first email (May 31, 2002) or elsewhere early in the voyage.


That also means you probably know the next two steps in this email are the individual updates on the boys, and our request for donations to this year's Aron Family Team.


First, the updates.


Medically, the big news is that Josh has a paralyzed vocal cord. It's actually small news because that happened when he was only a few days old; we just didn't learn it until a few months ago. (That – not excessive scar tissue – is why his voice is so low, and always will be.) Otherwise, the boys are as healthy as anyone their age, just bearing a few more battle scars on their torso.


Now the fun stuff, like Josh trading piano for flute and Jake becoming a Kid Reporter for SI Kids magazine. (He and Jaime will be covering the Final Four together; can you guess who is more excited?) Big brother Zac is a high school freshman who will be getting his driver's license any day. He's quite the versatile player for his JV baseball team and is loving his first year in BBYO.


While J&J are hoops junkies, and our entire family pitched in for this must-see basketball trick-shot video, we are primarily a baseball-driven household. The boys' 11th birthday was spent sleeping on the outfield grass at Rangers Ballpark, and a summer road trip birthed the new tradition of throwing the same baseball once in each state we visited (and there were nine).


As for our Family Team, this will be our second year joining our friends at Medical City Hospital, where Jake and Josh spent their first seven months. As always, we'd be honored for you to join us, either in spirit with a donation or in person for the trip around White Rock Lake the morning of April 12.


Over the last nine years, we've raised about $47,000. Crossing the $50,000 mark would be awfully cool. But this isn't about us. It's about other families - perhaps yours - having healthy babies. As we've said before, whether you have a baby, want a baby or were a baby, this cause touches you. We feel a debt of gratitude to the March of Dimes that we can never fully repay … but we're never going to stop trying, either.


Love,

Lori, Jaime, Zac, Jake, Josh (and YoYo)

Jake & Josh: Boys to ... teens/men (2015)

Dear Jake & Josh fans,


Teenagers. Yep, in less than five weeks our little dudes are going to be teenagers. Three months and four days later, they will become adults according to Jewish tradition when they have their b'nai mitzvah (plural for bar mitzvah).


We say this with the awe and appreciation every parent has at these stages ... and then some, as all of you who've followed our journey can certainly understand. And as much as we look forward to their birthday and b'nai mitzvah, there's another upcoming event we eagerly await: March for Babies.


A week from Saturday, our Aron Family Team will take its 11th annual trek around White Rock Lake. While other obligations kept us from sending this email sooner, we remain steady in our passion and commitment to the March of Dimes. We truly believe that their great work paved the way for all we have to celebrate. Here's the link to our team's donation page; if you're interested in walking with us, just reply to this email.


Now onto the highlights since last year's annual update.


Josh proved to be quite the marksman in an archery class, yet wasn't able to convince Jake or Zac to let him shoot an apple off their heads. He expanded his musical repertoire by playing flute and cornet, and he made perhaps the top highlight-reel basket of his team's season -- a swish from the baseline, at a behind-the-backboard angle that didn't seem capable of touching the rim, much less going in.


As our Facebook friends know, Jake had a lifetime's worth of amazing experiences as a Kid Reporter for Sports Illustrated Kids. He covered the Final Four, college football title game and more. He also earned a school award that's essentially given to the best all-around kid in 3rd through 5th grades. Alas, Jake also endured two hospitalizations and an emergency operation, all stemming from scar tissue left from the lifesaving bowel operation he underwent on his sixth day in the NICU.


Then there was the awesome shared triumph: The baseball team they've been part of since T-ball enjoyed a magical season, going 12-1 and winning the championship. Josh anchored third base and Jake played first base and outfield; we especially loved it when Josh threw across the diamond to Jake for a putout. With this season starting soon, we look forward to more great moments.


Thanks for allowing us to indulge in sharing the continued growth and progress of our miracle men. Here's hoping the celebration of our success can help other families of preemies be just as fortunate.


Love,

Lori, Jaime, Zac, Jake & Josh

Jake, Josh & March for Babies 2016

Braces. Bar mitzvah. Baseball. Basketball. And babies -- as in, March for Babies.


Hello, Jake & Josh fans, and welcome to our 2016 update email. If it seems like these keep coming out later and later in the year, well, that's because they are. The older the boys get, the busier we get.


Since last year's March for Babies, we've had a lot of notable moments, many of them made more notable by the boys' extreme prematurity.


The bar mitzvah was the biggie. This rite of passage is always emotional, but -- based on comments we heard -- this one really plucked the ol' heart strings. We were especially happy to share this night with many of the caregivers who helped make the joyous occasion possible.


The boys' past came back in an uglier way in January. Four days after Josh had his tonsils and adenoids removed at Medical City, we found ourselves back there, this time in the ER because he was suffering excruciating belly pain. It turned out to be caused by scar tissue from an operation he had during his preemie stay at Medical City. It was completely unrelated to the removal of the tonsils and adenoids, yet was such a bizarre coincidence that his ENT surgeon came in on a Saturday afternoon just to see for himself. Weirder still, Josh spent the next few days in the same room where Jake recovered from the same emergency surgery 18 months before. (He could've been given any of 76 rooms on that floor.)


So there you have it, one really good reminder of their crazy arrival and one that was pretty painful. They don't cancel each other out as much as remind us of the ups and downs that everyone faces in life. As we've said for years, they're normal kids now … well, sort of.


They remain medical miracles and we remain devoted to the March of Dimes for its role in this success story. We look forward to showing our loyalty at the March for Babies walk this Saturday. We'd love for you to join us on the walk and we'd appreciate if you join our team in spirit through a donation to this wonderful organization. Click here for our fundraising page.


Love,

Lori, Jaime, Zac, Jake & Josh

Jake, Josh & March for Babies 2017

Dear Jake & Josh fans,


Driver's ed in May. High school in August. How about those upcoming milestones for our miracle men?


The older they get, the more seldom we tell the story of their birth. Maybe that's why when we do relive the details, they seem even more incredible. Especially when you look at them now. 


From Beanie Baby-sized at birth, Josh is now 5-foot-2 and Jake about 5-foot-4. In our household, those are big numbers!


The more the boys outgrow their early start, the more we appreciate the March of Dimes making it possible. That's why our Aron Family Team will once again be taking part in March for Babies at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. 


The event has been rebooted -- it's now a 3-mile trek along The Lawn at Reunion Tower. We'd love for you to join us in person, in spirit and/or with a donation. Click here for our fundraising page.


Love,

Lori, Jaime, Zac, Jake & Josh


PS -- The following picture was taken in the fall for a "NICU to Now" exhibit. It features Jake (left) and Josh each holding a picture of themselves from the NICU. 

Jake, Josh & March for Babies 2018

Dear Jake & Josh fans,


Here we are again, a few weeks from March for Babies … and, a few weeks later, our favorite March of Dimes success stories will turn 16 and get their drivers licenses.


Pretty cool, eh?


Since everyone on our distribution list is familiar with Jake & Josh's odds-busting story, we won't go into the details again. But there are a few things worth pointing out.


Every year, this note gives us a chance to reflect on Jake & Josh's odds-busting story. While we never take it for granted, it does get lost in the daily shuffle of physics homework, baseball practice and whose turn it is to take out the trash.


There's another, larger story worth reflecting on, too: The progress in helping make sure every baby has a healthy start.


Science and medical technology were advanced enough in 2002 that two kids born 17 weeks too soon, each weighing just 18 ounces, could survive and thrive. Surely things are way better now.

The leap is true. And this story released last week on Wired.com underscores both how far neonatology has come and how far it has to go.

The tale is of twins who faced somewhat similar circumstances to J&J. One made it, one didn't. A few lines that hit especially close to home:


  • "The (parents) simply hoped to reach what neonatologists call the threshold of viability: the point at which medical science has the ability to keep a premature baby alive outside the womb. … Advances in drugs, technology, and methods of care have pushed that line earlier and earlier, and today there are preemies growing up, healthy and whole, whose survival would have been unimaginable a generation ago. These days, the line between birth and death generally lies somewhere between 22 and 25 weeks’ gestation. [J&J were 23-weekers.]" 
  • "Ten or 15 years ago, many hospitals had firm rules: They would not agree to resuscitate babies born at or before 23 weeks, say, and they would not recommend the practice before 25 weeks." 
  • "(Their doctor) told them that, at 22 weeks, the twins would have less than a 5 percent chance of survival. At 23 weeks, they would have a better chance at life, but high odds of living with severe neurological complications." 

The point is, while things are getting better, there's still room for improvement. That's why we remain loyal to the March of Dimes and its signature fundraiser, March for Babies.


This year's event is Saturday, April 21, starting at the grassy area that used to be home to Reunion Arena. We'd love for you to join us in person or in spirit through a donation to our Aron Family Team. We're proud to have raised more than $50,000 since 2005 and hope to keep bumping that total even higher.

Here’s the link to our fundraising page, which is also a great place to sign up if you choose to lace ‘em up and make the 3.1-mile trek with us.


Love,

Lori, Jaime, Zac, Jake & Josh


(Here’s a shot from last year’s event. An updated family photo is on our fundraising page … another reason to visit there!)