We knew how lucky we were when we woke up on May 12, 2002, and Jake and Josh were still fighting for their lives in the NICU. Our appreciation grew every day thereafter.
Around February 2005, things were relatively calm enough in our lives that we were ready to give back to society. But how?
Lori heard about the March of Dimes' WalkAmerica event, so we signed up. We knew the March of Dimes name, but we had no idea that it was the organization leading the charge in the fight against prematurity.
We became involved in the newly formed "family team" category of the Walk. Our "Aron Family Team" raised nearly $5,000, making us the top fund-raisers in Dallas for 2005. As a result, we became the co-coordinators of the 2006 Family Teams campaign.
With the help of a poker tournament, we doubled our take to a shade under $10,000, again tops in Dallas for 2006. We raised more than $7,500 in 2007.
In 2008, the event became known as March for Babies.
You already know the March of Dimes helped cured polio. But did you know that made it the first (and still only) charitable organization to meet its stated goal of wiping out a disease?
OK, how about this one - did you know what the March of Dimes was the pioneer of the charity walk?
It all started in San Antonio in October 1970. It was called WalkAmerica, until a rebranding a few years ago resulted in the much more apt title of March for Babies.
This is the landing page for links to each year of our involvement. We look forward to adding entries for many more years.
Under postcard-perfect conditions, the "Aron Family Team" hit the road around White Rock Lake. This was our fourth annual gathering and the first since WalkAmerica was rebranded as "March for Babies."
We had a terrific group of more than 40 walkers; unfortunately, Zac was sick and wasn't part of the posse.
The big highlight this year was having our boys featured quite prominently on a Celebration Tower, in addition to our Path of Hope signs. You'll see the difference in the pictures below.
A slide show of photos from the event, capped by a brief diva-esque video of Jake performing, can be accessed by clicking here.
Jake and Josh modeling this year's T-shirt
Our fifth year of being involved with this great event and great organization was our favorite. We were fortunate enough to speak to some wonderful groups and to take part in some really fun events. The topper, of course, was the walk itself, highlighted by Jake's stirring rendition of the national anthem, which he learned to perform at this event.
Although the weather dampened things, Jakey brightened the mood with the song - as evidenced by the roar from a crowd of about 25,000. That's not just our biased perspective; many others have told us so.
Keep scrolling down to relive our thrills and click here to see how our fund-raising went.
You can also click around to see what else we've done for the March of Dimes in 2009, to learn about Jake's DVD debut and to catch up with big brother Zac.
The video of Jake's performance: In the above video, you see a guy behind Jake who is wearing a suit and tie; his name is Dallas city councilman Sheffie Kadane, and he is videotaping this from an angle that shows much of what Jake saw -- thousands and thousands of people.
Here is that video, courtesy of Councilman Kadane:
The video of our entire time being honored on stage:
On April 1, we joined NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten to unveil the March of Dimes-themed car that Hamlin would drive in Phoenix in a race the same day as our March for Babies event.
Jason lived up to his reputation as a great guy. And Denny was nice enough to let all 3 boys take a turn behind the wheel of his car.
That's Medical City CEO Britt Berrett on the left and Mayor Leppert to his right.
SPEAKING AT MEDICAL CITY
Of all the speeches we've given, this was easily the best ... and not just because of the standing ovation at the end.
What made it great was the location and the audience: At Medical City, to a group of about 100 employees, including the CEO and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.
This was actually an encore presentation. The first event, with about 50 other employees, went so well that we were invited back.
This was the first time Medical City and its parent company made the March of Dimes the beneficiary of their main fundraising efforts. Here's hoping it become a longterm relationship.
We enjoyed visiting with many corporations to help spur their employees' involvement. But only the fine folks at Chase brought a mascot.
This has been an exciting year, with lots of great projects in addition to our March for Babies work.
They include ...
Accepting a check for $216,928 from the Stripes convenience stores in Corpus Christi.
Taking part in Lobby Day at the state Capitol
We laced 'em up for a sixth year, and had a great time - especially with our cumulative contributions cracking the $40,000 plateau.
Despite threatening skies, the event drew more than 40,000 people (there's that number again) ... including 30 members of our Aron Family Team.
The day before, we also got to take part in an event for Austin Industries. They had people donate to the March of Dimes in honor of pies being thrown in the face of some bosses. Guess who got to do the throwing? Scroll down for some pictures and links to more online photos.
Here's the group that hooked up at the start line
We hit the jackpot: great weather, the race car designed by Jake & Josh was parked right outside the Family Teams tent and we even got to meet Kelly Clarkson, the first winner of "American Idol" and a national March of Dimes ambassador.
And, most importantly, we raised more than $3,500, taking our all-time tally to nearly $45,000.
Taking a family picture in front of the race car seemed like such a great idea. The reality is, we should've stood BEHIND it!