On Sunday, Baltimore Ravens long snapper Tyler Ott will be one of eight Ravens on the field sporting custom cleats. For his “My Cause, My Cleats,” Ott selected March of Dimes, something he’s been connected to for just over 31 years when he was born a month premature and spent 10 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Though Ott was a month early, he was a fully developed preemie. Originally, doctors were going to administer Ott Surfaxin, which is used to treat or prevent respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) in a premature baby whose lungs have not fully developed. Ott ended up not needing the medication, but had he, March of Dimes research would’ve saved his life as it has countless others as pulmonary surfactant therapy was researched and developed by the foundation.
Ott is part of the majority of premature infants, as 58.3% of all premature infants are born within 35 to 36 weeks. Of preemies born a month early, there’s a heightened chance of needing supplemental oxygen, rehospitalizations respiratory failure and, tragically, a higher mortality rate of 0.8%.
Ott has gone on to live a healthy life; he played high school football in Oklahoma before attending Harvard and ventured forth into a nine-year NFL career. And in that time, Ott’s grown closer to March of Dimes by way of his mother, Laurie Applekamp, who went from industrial redevelopment in Tulsa to direct the Eastern Oklahoma Division of March of Dimes over 20 years ago. Applekamp has proudly been with March of Dimes since 2003.
“I’m very proud [of my mom],” Ott said. “She helped me get to where I am today and raised me and taught me how to be a man and obviously to give back as well.”
Since having two children, Ott’s felt the necessity to support March of Dimes even more, as he’s been a part of the lucky few to have healthy births with both of his children.
“The goal of March of Dimes is to give everyone an on-time, healthy pregnancy, and healthy delivery of your babies. That’s what inspires me, motivates me the most and why I appreciate March of Dimes so much.”
“It doesn’t matter how much it is, every little bit helps,” Ott said. “Any amount of involvement in the organization helps. Volunteering, attending walks, reach out to your local March of Dimes office, find out what they need most. There’s lots of ways to be involved and the needs are really based regionally. I don’t know if a lot of people know about the March of Dimes. It’s a fairly large organization, but unless you really go digging, there’s so many other organizations that get a little more coverage. But, having healthy pregnancies and healthy babies is pretty important in life. I think it’s a great cause to support.”