The March of Dimes has increased the survival of premature infants and will host its annual March for Babies on April 10 to continue its journey of saving lives.
“Before the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, more than 70 percent of low weight babies died, and now more than 90 percent survive,” Karen Ellis, community director for the March of Dimes in Tallahassee said.
“Because of March of Dimes, the children that were born prematurely are still living.”
The March for Babies will be held at Cascades Park on the corner of Gaines and Suwannee Streets. Registration for the three-mile walk will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10 a.m.
Ellis said last year the organization raised $225,000 and this year, the organization has a goal to raise $250,000 during the walk.
“I was impressed with the walk last year it was great fun,” Ellis said. “It’s a nice event for families. It was a nice day with lots of entertainment for kids and entertainment overall.
Ellis said nearly 2,500 walkers participated in the event last year. This year, at least 50 teams and 300 individuals have signed up to walk.
The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization, which spends 76 cents of every dollar in March for Babies to support programs that help babies begin healthy lives.
The organization’s mission is to improve the health of all babies by preventing birth defects, prematurity and infant mortality.
Michele Kling, director of March of Dimes’ National Media Relations, said the program is designed to help mothers have healthy pregnancies and babies have a healthy start at life.
“We know that 540,000 babies each year in the USA are born prematurely, and we are working very hard to prevent prematurity,” Kling said. “It’s the leading killer of newborns, and the babies that survive can have problems in their lives.”
Kling said the organization has raised $1.8 billion since 1970 for research, advocacy and education.
Melissa Chong, president of the March of Dimes Collegiate Council at Florida A&M, said Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition is one of the local programs who receive funding from the event.
“The money that is raised from the walk usually goes toward research and different programs, like Healthy Start,” Chong said.
The March for Babies is the organization’s No. 1 fundraiser, according to Kling.
“We love this event because it’s our number one fundraiser, our longest running fundraiser, and it raises a little under our total income for the year, so it’s very important to us,” Kling said.
Ellis said major local sponsors for the march include North Florida Women’s Care, Capital Health Plan, North Highland, Publix, Cruzin 97.5 and CaptivEyes.
“We have hundreds of volunteers from the community that come out and help every year,” Ellis said.
Kristin Leek, secretary of FAMU’s March of Dimes Collegiate Council, said an event that brings many people together for a good cause has a powerful impact on individuals that are in need.
Leek said, “Even if you haven’t been directly affected by the cause that we are fighting, the statistics say you know someone who has.”
For more information about the March for Babies, visit www.marchforbabies.org or call at 850-422-3152.