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By Jericka Duncan

VOORHEES, N.J. (CBS) – “I actually almost died,” said Gianna Christman. “My mom was worried, everybody was worried.”

Yes, eight and a half years ago, Gianna Christman’s chances of survival were slim. But by looking at her today, you would never guess this vibrant and well-spoken little girl from Cherry Hill, was born at 25 weeks, weighing 1 pound 12 ounces.

“The only complication she has is a visual impairment but it could have been so much different, if not for the March of Dimes and the research they do,” said Angela Christman, Gianna’s mother.

Gianna is not alone, according to the March of Dimes one in eight babies in this country is born premature.

Sunday morning, more than 3,000 people walked to change those sobering statistics. March of Dimes, kicked off its March for Babies annual fundraiser at the new Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, New Jersey.

“Seventy-five percent of our revenue comes from this,” said Executive Director of the Southern Division of March of Dimes, Dania Sargent. “We’re raising money to do research, education, and to helping children, healthy babies, We’re trying to do away with premature birth.”

Organizers say there goal is to raise $3.4 million dollars throughout the state of New Jersey, with $350,000 coming from this event.

As for Giannna Christman, she hopes her story and her spirit will encourage others to step up to the call, to save a life.

“Sign up for the babies, make a team and walk for the babies!” said Christman.

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