FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 www.cdhsupport.org.