I'm participating in a 5K run/walk on Oct. 17 to raise money and awareness to combat preterm births in memory of the son of South Jersey natives. Jen and Brian Larsen's son, Leif, only lived for 52 hours after being born prematurely at 26 weeks.

Tragedies like this are unfortunately all too common. Here in New Jersey, about 9.6 percent of babies are born before 37 weeks, which classifies them as pre-term, and pre-term birth "is the leading cause of newborn death and disability among infants," according to March of Dimes. Unfortunately, New Jersey's pre-term birth rate is similar to that of the United States' as a whole, and both are worse than those in most high-resource countries.

In the face of these sad statistics, Jen and Brian are building a legacy for Leif based on helping families who are experiencing similar situations, promoting awareness and research, and supporting neonatal care centers.

Half of the proceeds from Leif's Legacy 5K Run/Walk will be donated to Shore Medical Center's Special Care Nursery. The other half will go to the Dahl Memorial Clinic in Skagway, Alaska, which is Brian and Jen's local clinic that has taken care of their family before, during, and after the pregnancy.

The in-person race starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 17 at the Sea Isle City Promenade intersection with JFK Boulevard. You also can participate virtually by walking a route of your own choice and then sharing your experience on the non-profit's page, facebook.com/LeifAleutianFoundation.

The walk/run is rapidly approaching, so click here to learn more and register. I'll see you there!