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KU Dance Marathon Celebrates Miracle Stories

The University of Kansas held its ninth annual Dance Marathon Saturday in the Kansas Union to celebrate 12 local families and raise awareness for KU Medical Center and the Children’s Miracle Network.

Stephanie and Randy McCleary were first introduced to the doctors and committee of both organizations through the birth of their quadruplets.

Higher-order multiple gestation is a pregnancy with three or more fetuses, and present higher morbidity and mortality rates than a single pregnancy, according to the Center for Disease Control. This is often because higher-order multiples are born early and with birth weight lower than 5.5 ounces–the lowest weight considered healthy for newborns.

“It was heartbreaking as a mom to see them be that early, and to see them struggling to even breathe or just make it was heart-wrenching,” Stephanie said. “The care that they received there, we feel that without KU Med our kids would not be here today.”

Stephanie credits KU Medical Center for her family’s success story and the birth of four healthy children. And eight years later, her family as well as the staff with the hospital and the committee with the Children’s Miracle Network continue to celebrate that story.

“The treatment we went through, the chances were less than 1 percent to have quadruplets,” Stephanie said. “So when we always say they’re our little miracles, we really mean it.”

At 24 weeks, babies reach the threshold of viability, and hold a 50 percent chance of survival. Then at 28 weeks, viability skyrockets into a 90 percent chance of survival. The McCleary quadruplets were born just six days after that milestone, and spent the next two months in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“We ended up on bed rest about 19 weeks at the hospital until I delivered them. That was a really rough time because at 19 weeks they’re not even viable; they would not make it. So every week was another milestone.”

Three years after the birth of Elizabeth, Zachary, Matthew and Cameron, the family began coming to KU’s annual dance marathon.

“Our movement is built on happiness and excitement, and really just showing them love,” said Travis Kesinger, the executive director of the KU Dance Marathon. “It’s something really unique when college students are taking away from their time and their lives as young adults to really commit to the next generation.”

The McCleary’s still keep in touch with the doctors at KU Medical Center and the KU Dance Marathon committee. According to Stephanie, they even get together for holiday baking each year.

“They’ve become another family to use,” Stephanie said. “We owe that all to the time and the things we’ve spent with all of these people here and with Children’s Miracle Network.”

For their birthday this year, the quadruplets plan to collect gifts for children in KU Medical Center’s intensive care unit instead of receiving gifts themselves. In addition, this year’s marathon raised just under $95 thousand for the Children’s Miracle Network.