The March of Dimes, a national organization aimed at improving the health of babies across the country and offering comfort and support to families with a baby under extended hospital care, provided vital support to the Clayton family while Caden was hospitalized.
Each year, the National March of Dimes Organization chooses March of Dimes ambassadors from a large pool of applicants. Typically, ambassadors are people who have raised a great deal of money for the cause or an individual or family who has had first-hand experience with prematurity. Caden and his family were chosen after simply asking how they could be more involved with the march.
Upon hearing their story, the March of Dimes selected them to represent the organization and be a March of Dimes ambassador. They worked closely with Carla Starling, the Senior Community Director of the Southwest Georgia Division of the March of Dimes.
This year’s March of Dimes was held on April 22 at Carroll County’s Tanner Park. Caden’s family team was dubbed “Caden’s Quarterbacks,” a name sparked by Caden’s interest in sports and the Super Bowl. They received a plaque from the March of Dimes March for Babies West Central Division, recognizing them for raising more than $7,000.
“Caden’s Quarterbacks” held a series of fundraisers to raise the money for the March of Dimes. The team stopped at nothing to spread awareness and raise money for the march. Caden’s mother, Cassandra Clayton, said they asked for donations wherever they went and sold T-shirts. Northside Hospital also matched the money they raised.
This was Caden’s family’s first year participating in the march, as he was so sick during previous years. The family says it was truly amazing to see so many people come together and support Caden and the March of Dimes.
Caden now weighs 26.6 pounds and will celebrate his third birthday next Tuesday. While Caden’s health is improving, the family continues to navigate a few bumps in the road.
Cassandra Clayton says, “The greatest challenge this year with Caden is that his speech is still delayed, but it is getting better.”
She reports that he is participating in speech and occupational therapy.
“Caden is still receiving most nourishment through the g-tube,” says Clayton. “He is trying more foods now, and green beans are his favorite.”
His grandmother, Lisa Cothren, also says Caden has just been cleared for preschool.
“This past year, we have seen fewer emergency room stays and no long-term stays,” Cothren added. “He has started running, like any other child, and he thinks he’s as big as the other kids.”
While Caden does not know much about going to school, when asked if he is ready to go to school with other kids, he flashes a huge grin and cheerfully replies, “I’m ready to start school, to be like my big brother.”
“Caden just loves life,” says Cothren. “He is always smiling. Everyone who meets him loves him. He will bless your heart.”