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Yakisha Bookard and Sons Serving As 2016 Charleston March of Dimes Ambassador Family
4/1/2016 2:58:25 PM

Yakisha Bookard and her sons

Joel Simmons

Justus Simmons

Joel Simmons

The Simmons boys

Yakisha Bookard and her three sons, Joel, Joshua and Justus Simmons, are serving as Charleston’s 2016 March for Babies Ambassador Family to help raise awareness about the lifesaving work of the March of Dimes.

In Charleston, March for Babies will take place on April 30 at 9 a.m. at Cannon Park. Jim McDaniel, CEO of Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union, is this year’s event chairperson.

Yakisha Bookard understands firsthand what it can mean if a baby is not born healthy. Joel was born 11 weeks too soon, weighing just 2 pounds, 9 ounces, and spent two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MUSC.

Two years later, Joshua was born at 34 weeks, weighing 3 pounds, 10 ounces. And five years after that, Justus arrived 13 weeks early, weighing 1 pound, 11 ounces.

Today, all three boys are healthy and happy. Bookard understands the significant role that March of Dimes research played in helping save her boys’ lives.

“No parent should have to experience the heart-wrenching journey that happens when a baby is born too soon,” said Bookard.  “That’s why we’re honored to have this opportunity to help the March of Dimes continue working for stronger, healthier babies.

“Thankfully, all of our children are healthy and vibrant little boys today. The March of Dimes has contributed to many of the benefits and expertise of the NICU. To know why this happened to me is my biggest question and the March of Dimes is the only organization leading the way to find out why.”

Premature birth touches half a million babies and their families every year including nearly 7,000 babies in South Carolina each year. Babies born too soon are struggle to survive and may have lifelong health consequences.

The March of Dimes is committed to funding research to find the answers to premature birth and funding local programs to educate healthcare providers and moms-to-be.

Charleston residents can register for March for Babies at Funds raised help support lifesaving research and community programs to help more babies have a healthy start in life.

Local March for Babies sponsors include: Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union, MUSC, Roper St. Francis, Bosch, South Carolina Federal Credit Union, Select Health of South Carolina, Publix, Kapstone, iHeartMedia, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Santee Cooper. National sponsors include Kmart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna, United Airlines and Mission Pharmacal.

Each year, the South Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes invests in mission initiatives statewide, including research grants and local community services.

Through these program services, the March of Dimes continues working to prevent birth defects and infant death, reduce South Carolina’s premature birth rate, increase access to prenatal care and educate healthcare providers and women about having healthy babies. 

For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at For the latest resources and information, visit and social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.


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