Joyce Davis, of Warren, has been very busy the last few years, years spent in the absence of a child who died from suffocation in a portable playpen.
After that terrible accident, Davis has dedicated herself to preventing any further such deaths as much as is possible—deaths caused not by a mysterious virus or unaccountable physical anomaly, but deaths caused by simple mistakes made in creating a safe place for a baby to sleep—"the only place you leave your children unattended," she notes.
Each year, hundreds of babies die because of unsafe cribs or mattresses, and Davis' Keeping Babies Safe charity is dedicated to eliminating the dangers caused by simple ignorance of safe uses and products.
She said that she found despite all the information given to newborn parents about taking care of their babies, information about safe products was lacking.
"Basically, what we found out was that information was not getting through to parents," she said. She also said information was not getting through to professionals—even the pediatricians and nurses staffing hospitals didn't always have the best information or products for keeping babies safe.
"Pediatricians know about the latest safe sleep standards, but they don't always know about the products," Davis said.
So for the last seven years, her organization has been raising understanding as well as money to try and prevent the accidental deaths. Keeping Babies Safe has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase and distribute safe, new cribs to hospitals, day care centers and families, as well as spread the word on perhaps the most easily preventable deaths there are.
"We produced a video ("Safe Sleep for Babies") last year that is shown in 1,200 hospitals nationwide," Davis said, adding through the efforts of Keeping Babies Safe, she believes about 60 percent of new mothers in the nation are being exposed to information which could help save their children's lives.
Thanks to the success of her avocacy, Davis has gained some strong allies—such as Toys 'R' Us, which has donated funding for hundreds of cribs in recent years.
But there's always more to do and more that can be done, so fundraising is an important priority. One of Keeping Babies Safe's biggest fundraisers is an annual 5K Run/Walk, which helps raise funding for more crib donations and outreach programs.
This year's event is scheduled for Sept. 23 at Harry Dunham Park, 490 Somerville Road, in Basking Ridge. As many as 500 participants are expected, and while Davis said it would be great to raise $100,000, the event usually nets about $35,000.
"We get families, we get people walking their dogs, and we get people with strollers," she said of the casual affair.
Warren Patch Local Editor John Patten will be participating in the 5K event, and invites readers to help out: you can to donate to Keeping Babies Safe, or join or pledge to the "Patch Parents" team at the event—check the Keeping Babies Safe registration page to join or donate.