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March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement


March 15, 2021
Contact: Tricia Fetui, Executive Director, Donor Development
Phone: (808) 391-1272
Howard Lee, President & CEO, UHA Health Insurance and David Kennedy, Chief Revenue Officer, Honolulu-Star Advertiser to lead Hawaii Market 2021 Campaign

Honolulu, Hawaii, March 15, 2021 – As our nation grapples with an urgent maternal and infant health crisis that’s been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kitashiro Family, UHA Health Insurance and Honolulu Star-Advertiser are rallying the community to virtually support families through March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement™! As this year’s March of Babies Ambassador, Chair and Co-Chair respectively, Michelle, Devin and Dax Kitashiro, Howard Lee, Chair, and David Kennedy, Co-Chair, will help raise awareness and critical funds for March of Dimes, as well as lead the local movement to make Hawaii a more equitable place and ensure that every mom and baby is healthy.

Even before the global pandemic hit, one woman died every 12 hours from pregnancy-related causes, and 1 in ten babies in Hawaii are born, too soon, each year. 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. Last year, Hawaii was rated as a D+ in March of Dimes annual report card for preterm birth rates, infant deaths, state efforts on Medicaid expansion and extension, health insurance status, and inadequate prenatal care. Click here to view the report card.

In 2019, Michelle and Devin Kitashiro welcomed their son Dax Kitashiro at only 27-weeks old weighing 1.8 pounds. He battled with Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), the most common and serious intestinal disease among premature babies, required two surgeries and spent his first 16-weeks fighting for life in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at Kapi?olani Medical Center for Women & Children.

Lee and Kennedy are asking local businesses and community leaders to join them to support March for Babies to raise funds and awareness to improve Hawaii’s preterm birth rates. “The number of babies born preterm here in Hawaii and nationwide is staggering,” In a joint statement, they said, “By joining in this movement, you’re taking action and ensuring March of Dimes can continue the vital research, programs, such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Support Program at Kapi?olani Medical Center for Women & Children, and advocacy that allow all moms and babies, across our state, to get the best possible start.”

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. In Hawaii, this movement is for everyone who wants to do more for families—and not just today, but every day. The March for Babies walk will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2021 statewide on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island and we encourage all participants to walk three miles in their neighborhoods, at their favorite park or at their beach of choice to support physical and mental wellness, provide a safe activity for their families and build strong community engagement. Participants will take part in a variety of activities and fundraising challenges, including a national celebration later this year and can get involved in the following ways:

  • Sign up to be part of the movement at
    Sign up as a team captain, team member or individual.
  • Take action to connect, fundraise and spread the word
    Rally with thousands across the state in the collective effort to transform the health of all moms and babies.
  • Celebrate and see the impact we’ve made
    Post your story to Facebook at @MarchofDimesHawaii
In our community, March for Babies will be sponsored this year by UHA Health Insurance, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Dental Service, HMSA and more.

For more information on March for Babies, including how to sign up, download the March for Babies app and start a team, visit
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every mom and baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we’re there for every family—those who had first-hand hardships, those celebrating their health and those just trying to start their families. For more information go to or, and visit for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook @MarchofDimesHawaii and follow us on Instagram @MarchofDimes and Twitter.

UHA Health Insurance provides medical, drug and vision plans to nearly 4,300 Hawai‘i employer groups and approximately 57,000 members. As the only health plan in Hawai‘i founded by physicians, it was the first to offer preventive and wellness care focused health plans in the state. It continues to be physician led and now offers the largest physician network in Hawai‘i. By meeting strict quality standards to ensure clinically sound decision-making that respects the rights of patients and medical providers, UHA received accreditation in Health Utilization Management through URAC, the independent non-profit that promotes healthcare quality.
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