Sunset chocolatier joins Ridge resident to light the borough purple for World Prematurity Day

Lighting Brooklyn purple!

Jacques Torres opened up his chocolate factory, located in Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal, on Thursday, November 17 to host the first-ever “LIGHTBKLYNPURPLE fundraiser” alongside Brooklyn Committee co-chair of the March of Dimes in Kings County and Bay Ridge resident John Quaglione.

The event was held in honor of World Prematurity Day and saw a large group of attendees treated to food, drinks, a tour of Torres’ famous factory, and of course, plenty of chocolate — all in the name of spreading awareness about premature births.

“Many of you know the mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent babies [from being born with] birth defects and born prematurely,” said Quaglione. “One in 10 babies is born too soon. And prematurity is the number one killer of babies in the nation.”

“Fifteen million babies worldwide will be born prematurely,” added Torres. “One million babies will not survive and we are here tonight to try to change this outlook. One million babies is way too many.”

Plenty of spots in Brooklyn also lit purple during the evening, including Barclays Center, the Parachute Jump, Brooklyn Borough Hall and a strip in Crown Heights.

Quaglione and Torres also received proclamations from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, declaring November 17 March of Dimes Day in Brooklyn.

The pair also discussed their personal struggles with premature births.

“It’s something that brings fear and heartache to families. In my case, my first daughter was born too early and was 4.2 pounds,” said Quaglione. “With our second child. . .my wife’s doctor thought she was close to delivery at 27 weeks, which would have been problematic for the baby.”

Thanks to a new drug, Makena, which she received as an injection every Wednesday for nine weeks on bed rest, Quaglione’s wife, Kerry, was able to carry until 36 weeks.

“We were blessed with a beautiful six-pound baby girl eight months ago,” he said.

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ Photos by Jaime DeJesus
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ Photos by Jaime DeJesus

Torres and his child were also born prematurely. “At the time, they would put babies in shoe boxes and wrap them with blankets with oils on them to help them get the same effect that an incubator gives children,” said Quaglione.

“I was premature. I was born less than three pounds and my dad put me into a shoe box,” Torres said. “My child was born six weeks early and I was never so scared in my life.”

Luckily, the baby was over six pounds at birth. “This is the benefit of chocolate,” Torres joked. “Chocolate is a miracle cure.”

Medical advances were also spotlighted at the event.

“This week, in the Ohio center of the March of Dimes, researchers uncovered a surprisingly possible trigger for premature birth,” Quaglione said. “They say a calcium build-up in the womb of the mother similar to the kind that stiffens older people’s arteries or causes kidney stones could potentially be a cause.”

Although this was the first event of its type, it won’t be the last.

“We will make this a tradition,” Torres said.

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