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Lt. J. Paul Vance, Connecticut State Police, Named 75th Anniversary Ambassador by March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter

Lt. J. Paul Vance, Connecticut State Police, Named 75th Anniversary Ambassador by March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter Vance is a grandfather to a premature baby, now a healthy six year old

The March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter is proud to announce that Lt. J. Paul Vance, public information officer for the Connecticut State Police, has been named its March of Dimes 75th Anniversary Ambassador. In his role, Vance will share his personal story of how premature birth has affected the lives of his family. He will appear at several March for Babies events this spring, including Danbury, East Hartford and Middlebury, where his daughter, Megan, and her husband Chris, lead a team, “Gavin’s Wolfpack.”

A familiar face to Connecticut television viewers, Lt. J. Paul Vance has been a Connecticut State Trooper for more than 38 years. As the commanding officer of the State Police Public Information Office, Lt. Vance is the public voice and face of the Connecticut State Police. He works with a PIO team to ensure that all public safety issues are announced and publicized to the people of Connecticut through the print and broadcast media.  He is a father of three and grandfather of six. 

In November of 2006, Vance’s grandson, Gavin, was born 15 weeks too soon and had to struggle to survive. Weighing just 1 lb. 14 oz., Gavin spent 11 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at UConn Health Center in Farmington before he was able to come home. During his time in the NICU, Gavin battled respiratory distress syndrome, retinopathy of prematurity (abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina), colitis and gastric reflux. He also received surfactant, a therapy funded in part through the March of Dimes, to help mature his tiny lungs. After Gavin came home, his challenges were not behind him. He contracted a severe respiratory virus that caused respiratory distress, and his dad performed CPR. He endured another long hospital stay.  

“As a parent and grandfather, it is devastating to watch your family struggle to cope with the realities of a baby born too soon. It wasn’t long after Gavin’s arrival that we learned more about the March of Dimes. During our time in the NICU, we received support from their NICU Family Support program and it’s because of research funded by the March of Dimes that Gavin received surfactant. Without it, he may not be here,” said Vance.

In 2011, Vance’s family again faced the devastation of prematurity, when Gavin’s brother, Caden, was born too soon. Sadly, Caden did not survive.

“More than one million families worldwide never get to see their child or grandchild celebrate their first birthday because they were born too small or too sick to survive,” said Vance. “But because of advancements made by the March of Dimes, for the first time in decades, the rate of prematurity in the U.S. is declining.”

Founded in 1938 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat polio, March of Dimes celebrated success, when in 1955, a vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk was found “safe, effective and potent.” There has not been an outbreak of polio in the U.S. in more than 30 years. In the decades to follow, the organization helped to stamp out rubella, pushed for regionalized newborn intensive care, funded the development of surfactant therapy and other life-saving treatments, promoted folic acid to prevent neural tube defects and brought newborn screening to every baby.

“This unique organization has brought together presidents, celebrities, scientists, parents and citizens to ensure that babies get a healthy start, as and a father and grandfather, there is nothing more important,” said Vance. “I am proud to support the March of Dimes and I’m thrilled to help celebrate 75 years of accomplishments for babies.” 

Vance will also serve as the Grand Marshall of March for Babies at Quassy Amusement Park on May 5. Participants may register now at marchforbabies.org.  Nine events will take place in Connecticut on April 27 & 28, and May 4 & 5.  March for Babies is supported by statewide sponsors NBC Connecticut and Comcast and sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Macy’s, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Famous Footwear, Actavis, Mission Pharmacal, and United Airlines.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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