Friday, April 13, 2012

CDH and CHERUBS on CNN iReport!

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Senator Sessions Works With Charity To Help Save 1600 Babies Born Each Year With Mysterious Birth Defect

PRESS RELEASE: Sessions to Address “Parade of Cherubs” in Washington to Raise Awareness for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)


Media Contact:
Kelly Maicon

Sessions to Address “Parade of Cherubs” in Washington to Raise Awareness for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)

WAKE FOREST, NC (April 9, 2012) – On Thursday, April 19, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will meet with over 250 people participating in a “Parade of Cherubs” in Washington, DC, to raise awareness of a birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). Sen. Sessions’ two-year old grandson, Jim Beau, is a CDH survivor. In Jim Beau’s honor, the Senator’s family will take part in the event, and Sen. Sessions is requesting a Congressional Bill for the benefit of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Research.

CDH is a birth defect of the diaphragm. It occurs when the diaphragm fails to form or to close totally and an opening allows abdominal organs into the chest cavity, inhibiting lung growth. CDH affects approximately one in every 2,500 babies, or about 1,600 babies in the United States each year. It is as common as cystic fibrosis and spina bifida. Roughly 50 percent of babies born with CDH do not survive. The cause is still unknown.

“CDH awareness and research is very important and especially to me because my grandson, Jim Beau, was born with CDH in 2009,” said Senator Sessions. “This is a life threatening birth defect that not many people have heard about. Only 50 percent of the babies survive and that number could and should be higher. Research and awareness are key and we are excited that CHERUBS chose to parade in DC this year.”

The parade has been organized through CHERUBS, a North-Carolina based grassroots nonprofit organization started by Dawn Williamson whose son, Shane, died in 1999 at the age of six from CDH complications. Children donned in wings will begin the three-mile walk at 10:00 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial; they will travel past the Washington Monument and the White House, and conclude at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Massachusetts General's CDH Genetic Study Lab will have representatives walking in the parade. During their visit to Washington they will take blood samples from relatives of CDH victims for genetic research.

“We are thrilled to have so many survivors and families affected by CDH as well as the medical community come out to support the cause,” said Dawn Williamson, president and founder of CHERUBS. “Families from all corners of the country plan to participate in the parade, and we expect the number to grow as we get closer to the event.”

Several other cities across the U.S. are hosting a cherubs parade on the same day including, Chicago and Peoria, Ill.; Denver; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and St. Louis. The St. Louis Fetal Treatment Institute, known for conducting in utero procedures on CDH babies, has been an integral part of organizing their local event. There will also be a national candle lighting in the U.K.

A virtual parade of Cherubs has been set up on Facebook and Twitter so people can show their support by uploading photos and videos from their smaller awareness/fundraiser events.

If you would like to help spread the word, or to learn more about CHERUBS and the upcoming parades, please visit


Additional Events:

Washington DC Parade of CHERUBS takes place on April 19, 2012 starting at the Lincoln Memorial at 10:00.  It is being led by Dawn Williamson, President of CHERUBS and mother to Shane, a non-survivor and Melissa Larrison, Virginia State Representative and mother to Hanna Larrison, also a non-survivor.

The Denver Parade of CHERUBS takes place on April 19, 2012, at Sand Creek Park starting at 3:30 pm. The event will start with the reading of the proclamation issued by Governor Hickenlooper and will follow with recognition of the health care professionals in Colorado who lend so much to the conduct and advancement of medical treatment for this congenital defect. A moment of silence will be observed in memory of those CHERUBS who have been lost to CDH. Finally, participants will take part in a three-stage balloon release in memory of our CHERUB Angels, in honor of our CHERUB Warriors, and in anticipation of those CHERUBS who will arrive soon. The event was organized by Nicolle Colvin the Colorado State Representative for CHERUBS, Victoria Grover, and Jennifer Rodi.

The Peoria Parade of Cherubs takes place on April 22, 2012 in Glen Oak Park beginning at 2:00 pm. The event was organized by Kristin Aigner and Sarah Polich. Kristin is an RN in the NICU and coordinates CDH Follow up Clinic at OSF St Francis Medical Center and is the sister of Christopher, who was born with CDH in 1973. Christopher grew his wings and flew to Heaven two months after he was born. Sarah 's daughter, Kalianna, was born with CDH and is now a happy, thriving 8 month old. The Parade route is around Glen Oak park, followed by a ceremony to honor Cherubs in Heaven, ending with the joy of being together, refreshments and kids playing in the park.

The Seattle Parade of CHERUBS takes place on April 19, 2012 and is being organized by CHERUBS Washington State Representative, Christina Stembler, whose Son, Hunter Stembler, was born with CDH. Christina invites Everyone that has been affected in any way by CDH, to take part in the parade. Meet on Pier 62/63 next to the Seattle Aquarium at 11:00 A.M. We will be walking to Waterfront Park and Releasing Balloons in Loving Memory of all CHERUBS lost and in celebration of CDH Warriors and the awareness that they share on a Daily basis.

CHERUBS is working with Children's Memorial Hospital to put on the Chicago Parade of Cherubs. The Illinois Representative for CHERUBS, Neil Rubenstein, is organizinng the Chicago Parade. Starting at 11:00 a.m., participants will take part in a balloon launch at Oz Park to pay respect to all those Cherubs lost. Then they will be walk 1.2 miles by the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House (which so many CDH families frequent during their child's often long stay at the hospital). Close to 70 people (from three states) are expected to participate in this awareness event.

The St Louis Parade of CHERUBS takes place on April 19, 2012 and is a joint project of CHERUBS and the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute.  It will include a walk around the hospital grounds, a presentation, candle lighting and lighted balloon release.

Oregon & SW Washington members of CHERUBS will be holding Portland's "Parade of Cherubs" for the International CDH Awareness Daily Celebration in conjunction with several other cities in the USA & UK on Thursday, April 19th from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, OR. The local event is being coordinated by CHERUBS Oregon Co-Rep grandmother Shelly Moore & mother Alicia Gilbert to CDH angel Jayden Gilbert who died in March of 2010 after a 23 day fight against CDH & complications, and member Andrea Martin whose 12 year old daughter Sarah is a CDH survivor.

CHERUBS United Kingdom Representatives Clair Maher and Melanie Parsons are working with member Cara Stevenson to coordinate a national Light Up the Night Event with candles and lanterns.!/events/248708328546723/

A Virtual Parade of Cherubs will include 100's of CDH families submitting stories, photos and video over social media.  More information can be found at

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