The Iris Fund recently received a $4,000 grant from the Ridgefield Thrift Shop. The organization also won the FCCF’s Giving Day Rookie of the Year award for most unique donors; a $1,000 prize sponsored by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. To date, The Iris Fund has raised more than $225,000 since its founding a little over two years ago.

The Iris Fund was created in loving memory of Iris Crystal Aleman, daughter of Brittney Crystal and Jose Aleman, who was born and passed away due to prematurity on July 15, 2017.

“In the days following her death, we wanted to learn more about what causes preterm birth and ways to prevent it,” said Brittney Crystal. “We were stunned to hear that obstetricians have not fully understood the mechanisms that start the onset of normal labor leading to childbirth. Sadly, even less is known about what triggers preterm labor leading to a baby who is born premature like Iris. Whether a family is having a normal or high-risk pregnancy, all families deserve to know these basic answers and have effective interventions to prevent preterm birth.”

“Iris received her name early in pregnancy — her father and I wanted our daughter to have a name that would serve as an anchor and provide hope throughout her life,” she said. “Iris is the goddess of the rainbow.”

“The three petals of the iris flower represent faith, wisdom and valor. Iris Crystal Aleman’s legacy is just that for her family now as they strive to create a world where no babies should have to die or have complicated lives — suffering life-long mental and physical disabilities — due to prematurity.

Currently, nearly half a million babies, greater than the population of Atlanta, Ga., are born premature each year. The cost of prematurity to society, stemming from the lifelong issues associated with preterm birth, is an estimated $30 billion.”

“The Iris Fund ensures her legacy is one that makes certain no other family endures the heartbreaking loss and complications of prematurity,” Crystal said. “It ensures that all mothers-to-be have the information they need to understand how their bodies work during pregnancy and labor. To accomplish this, the Iris Fund supports innovative research to define labor, how it occurs, and develop novel, safe and effective therapies to prevent preterm birth.”

For more information, visit facebook.com/theirisfund.org.