March for Babies set for May 16

First Posted: 3/13/2009

March for Babies takes place in more than 900 communities across the United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In Mount Airy, the walk will be held May 16 at Veterans Memorial Park. Registration is at 9 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m.
March for Babies is the March of Dimes biggest fundraiser. Money raised in March for Babies supports the March of Dimes mission to give every baby a healthy start. It is used to fund important research and community programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives. Walks have been held since 1970 and have raised $1.8 billion to benefit all babies.
In 2008, we officially changed the name of our event from WalkAmerica to March for Babies. The new name makes it very clear why were walking: to give every baby a healthy start. Our mission hasnt changed. The March of Dimes continues to protect the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, said Debbi Patterson, community director for the March of Dimes.
Every year, more than 7 million people get involved in March for Babies as sponsors, volunteers or participants. Last year, there were more than 250 people participating in the Mount Airy March for Babies. It raised more than $68,000, and this year the goal is $70,000, Patterson said.
This years local ambassador is Leticia Arvizu.
You can raise money and walk as an individual, with a Family Team or with your company or organization. You can also volunteer on walk day to register walkers, staff checkpoints or offer refreshments. Or you can sponsor friends, family members and co-workers with a gift to their walk, explained Patterson.
Thousands of companies, schools and organizations get involved in March for Babies in their communities. Rallying behind a common cause is a great team-building experience, Patterson said. Participation helps build employee morale at a time when layoffs and cutbacks are happening all around. Company teams are an important part of the success of the event. In 2008, the top 25 company teams together raised $32 million. The March of Dimes is the number two most named charity by moms, Patterson continued.
National sponsors for March for Babies include Kmart, CIGNA, Farmers Insurance Group, FedEx, Famous Footwear, Liberty Tax Service and Continental Airlines. Some of our largest company teams are Kmart, CIGNA, Farmers Insurance Group, FedEx, Famous Footwear, Bank of America, CITI, Publix Super Markets, Knowledge Learning Corporation and Wachovia.
In Mount Airy, we have teams such as Northern Hospital, SouthData, WorkForce Carolina, Mount Airy OB/GYN, Hanesbrands, Lyndhurst OB/GYN and BB&T. We also have many schools involved, including Surry Community College, she said.
Family teams are made up of families and friends participating in March for Babies to celebrate or honor a baby in their lives. Many walk in memory of a baby who didnt survive. These special teams remind everyone of the importance of the March of Dimes mission to help all babies be born healthy, Patterson said.
The March of Dimes spends 92 cents of every dollar raised on research and programs that promote the health of babies. By walking and raising money, the March of Dimes is able to:
Support all-important research offering preventions and solutions for babies born too soon or with birth defects.
Educate women on things they can do to increase their chances of having a healthy baby.
Provide comfort and information to families with a newborn in intensive care.
Push for newborn screening and health insurance for all pregnant women and children.
Those who are interested in signing up can register online today. Visit to sign up as an individual walker or team member.
Its fun and easy you can start raising money with OFT as soon as youre registered. Just e-mail everyone in your address book and ask them to make a secure donation with their credit card or PayPalTM. Our system automatically tracks your progress and sends a thank-you message and receipt to your donors. People who use the Online Fundraising Tool (OFT) raise up to three times the amount of people who dont go online, Patterson said.
In 2008, the March of Dimes funded $3.3 million in national research grants to Duke, UNC, NC State and East Carolina. These grants are looking at causes of prematurity and how to prevent prematurity from happening.
In a 2008 report card based on the Healthy People 2010 initiative, North Carolina received an F because its prematurity rate is 13.7 percent, almost double the national goal of 7.6 percent. One out of eight babies is born premature. In North Carolina, 311 babies are born premature each week. It is the leading cause of infant mortality and a major cause of lifelong disabilities including blindness, chronic lung disease, mental retardation, developmental delays and cerebral palsy. The average lifetime medical cost of one premature baby is estimated at $500,000. But the emotional costs are even greater.
For more information, visit or, or call the March of Dimes regional office at 723-4386.

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