First Posted: 5/16/2009
North Carolina ranks 47th in the number of premature births and birth defects. A little more than 13 percent of births in North Carolina are premature births.
The March for Babies campaign sponsored by the March of Dimes is looking to change that. The March for Babies walk was held in Mount Airy on Saturday with 250 to 300 people turning out to participate. About $50,000 was raised by the end of the event to benefit the cause.
Teams comprised of businesses, churches and families showed up at Veterans Park Saturday morning to make the 3.5-mile trek to raise money and awareness for the issues facing babies today.
Were doing this to raise money to have healthy babies, to do research, to educate and to promote advocacy, said Debbi Patterson, the community director for March of Dimes.
It is very important to get the word out, said Tracy Greenwood, volunteer. Theres nothing cute about a baby with tubes running out of its body, struggling to breathe. Were just hoping that one day we can get to the point where we have all healthy babies.
Many of the people participating in the walk have a personal connection to the issue. Mark Anderson is a team captain for the group from SouthData. His son was born seven weeks early, weighing in at only 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Representatives from Flat Rock Baptist Church were among a number of participants who wore T-shirts with the names of babies born premature on the back.
The Arvizu family served as this years ambassador family. Leticias daughter was born premature and as a result developed cerebral palsy. Through the efforts of research at Forsyth Medical Center, the staff in the neo-natal intensive care unit were able to do more for her than if they were not helped by the March of Dimes.
If not for the March of Dimes, I would not have a daughter today, she said. Its about all children, not just mine. Hopefully one day we wont have any more birth defects.
SouthData raised the most money for this years campaign, bringing in $11,202.85. Of that money, about $4,600 came from payroll deductions from the employees. The rest was raised through fundraisers and the company agreed to match the amount brought in by the employees.
This is a great bunch of people who have worked real hard, said John Springthorpe III, owner of SouthData.
We couldnt have done it without the support of the employees. Theyve all contributed, said Mark Anderson, one of the team captains along with Amanda Tate.
Members of the congregation from Flat Rock Baptist Church have been participating in the walk for 10 or 12 years and look to keep participating as long as there is someone available to walk.
Its such a good cause, because its unreal the number of babies born premature, said Betty Patterson, walker from the church. They (the March of Dimes) help so many.
Members from the District Attorneys office also participated in the walk to help out a good cause and to show members of the community that they are regular people as well.
A lot of what we do in the DA office is with crimes against children. This is something we can do to help outside the courthouse. Were here to support the community and the kids, said Mike Beal, an assistant district attorney.
Were here to support children around the community, the country and the world, said Tom Langan, who also serves as an assistant district attorney.
Members of the State Employees Credit Union are participating in March of Dimes walks across the state this year with representatives from the Mount Airy branch doing their part as well.
We know this is a huge campaign. We know there needs to be a cure and we want to do our part, said Lilnette Phillips.
With the Arvizu family in the lead, the walkers headed out of the park to Grace Street before turning down Main Street and on to Independence Boulevard. They then took to the walking trail and headed back to the park, a 3.5-mile journey to help raise awareness and contribute to finding a cure.
Were pleased with the turnout and the amount of money we raised, said Debbi, noting that more people showed up this year than last year.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.