A mom and baby at a Compassion survival center in the Dominican Republic.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – October 27, 2023 – As the World Series kicks off today, Chris Stratton, pitcher for the Texas Rangers, and Pavin Smith, outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, will be competing against one another on the baseball field. Yet off the field, Stratton and Smith have come together as teammates for an important common cause, “The Fight for First.”
It’s a tragic reality that thousands of babies around the world won’t make it to their first birthday. Every year, 2.6 million babies in poverty don’t survive their first 28 days, and most die within the first week of life due to pre-term birth or delivery complications. In many regions in the developing world, mothers also face severe and life-threatening conditions. Approximately 830 women die each day from pregnancy or childbirth complications.
To address this ongoing crisis, Compassion International launched “The Fight for First,” a global initiative to raise $7.5 million to fund 500 survival centers for mothers and babies in the developing world to help these children reach their first year. These 500 centers can help save the lives of 25,000 mothers and 25,000 babies in just two years.
“’The Fight for First’ is helping pregnant moms not only safely deliver their children, but get those children to their first birthdays,” said Chris Stratton, pitcher for the Texas Rangers and “The Fight for First” team lead. “As a father of young children myself, I have seen how babies are incredibly vulnerable when they are born. If we can get these children through their first year, the odds of their survival increase dramatically.”
Compassion’s survival centers provide proper prenatal care, education, nutritious food, clean water, access to medical care, a birth assistant during childbirth, and a community of spiritual and emotional support to moms and babies in poverty. The results of these centers are undeniable. In communities with Compassion survival centers in Ethiopia, infant mortality rates dropped from 31 out of 1,000 to almost zero. Similarly, in Togo, attended birth and immunization rates improved from 48 to 98 percent.
So far, the team has raised more than $2 million to directly funded 152 centers, but the work is not done. Stratton and his wife, Martha Kate, have been long-time supporters of Compassion and have played a leadership role in “The Fight for First” campaign. They have also helped launched survival centers in the Dominican Republic and Ghana through their work with Compassion. Compassion previously teamed up with professional athletes from numerous sports to complete “Fill the Stadium,” an effort in direct response to food shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign raised over $36 million and provided life-saving food and support to 76,473 children around the world.
To learn more about Compassion’s child survival program, visit compassion.com/childsurvival. To learn more about “The Fight for First” initiative, led by athletes like Stratton and Smith, visit thefightforfirst.com.