A march for babies

By on March 5, 2009

by Gwen Allen
In the spring of 2008, more than 600 people from all over Illinois converged in St. Charles and raised more than $100,000 for babies, setting the bar high for future volunteers.

Lena Clement, Community Director of March of Dimes, said she anticipates another successful event this year with a goal of $112,000 to be raised at the April 26 March for Babies in St. Charles.

March of Dimes is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth (birth prior to 37 weeks gestation) and infant mortality (with preterm birth the leading cause of death in the first month of life in the US). Babies who survive a premature birth are also at risk and face the possibility of serious lifelong health problems, including learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and other chronic conditions including asthma. Even infants born just a few weeks too soon have a greater risk of breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and delayed brain development.

Clement said in Illinois, 90 percent of the money raised goes directly to their cause of research and prevention while only 10 percent goes to funding administration.

“We have a high need in this area, because we give millions to local hospitals and research institutions,” Clement said. “This is important, because one in eight babies are born premature, even when the mother does everything right. So we are trying to find out why and keep moms pregnant as long as possible.”

A goal held dear by the volunteers who will walk six miles is to help raise awareness and money for more research. She said most participants would have either been affected directly or indirectly by a pre-term birth.

“It’s really an exciting day when people come together to raise money for babies,” Clement said. “A majority of the people involved are families, it’s really a family oriented event with children and pets on the walk too.”

Along with the families, she said there are also corporate sponsors who continue to show reliable support.

“Central DuPage Hospital is one of our largest supporters, and they even doubled their donation for 2009, which in this economy is pretty amazing,” Clement said. “Another large supporter is Farmers Insurance, so they’ll both be there and they have been for years.”

Amy Burgess, the clinical manager of Labor and Delivery for Central Dupage Hospital, helps organize the hospital’s walking team and said the relationship with March of Dimes is reciprocal.

“We are active every year, because our nurses support their mission,” Burgess said. “We have a level three NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) so we have seen March of Dimes directly help our families and babies.”

With a mission of improving the health of babies, she said the March of Dimes is, in essence, helping the hospital with its mission “that we live everyday.”

“This (March for Babies) is really a nursing and staff initiative for us, no one has told us that we have to do it,” Burgess said. “There is a lot of excitement around it, we have a passion for it because it’s (the March of Dimes mission) a shared vision. We hope to have a big presence at this years walk.”

For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.

Local fundraising events

Fox Valley
Sunday, April 26
Pottawatomie Park
8 North Ave., St. Charles, IL
Walk distance: 6.2 miles
Registration time: 8 a.m.
Start time: 9 a.m.
Chapter: Greater Chicago Division
(312) 435-4007

DeKalb
Saturday, April 25
1403 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, IL
Walk distance: 3.7 miles
Registration time: 9 a.m.
Start time: 10 a.m.
Chapter: Northern Illinois Division
(815) 397-0097

How to help
www.marchofdimes.com/volunteerland

Educate and advocate
• Spread the word about the mission
• Call, write or visit your
public officials
• Community education activities
• Projects to help NICU families

Fundraise
• March of Dimes March for Babies
(marchforbabies.org/)
• Other events with your Chapter

Volunteer virtually
• Send e-mails or e-cards
• Post a banner or start a blog
• Visit shareyourstory.org

Time and talent
• Offer your professional
skills pro-bono
• Make calls from your home or office
• Administrative help in your
chapter office