Started by President Roosevelt in 1938, the March of Dimes was a call of action yo ladies to go from house to house to collect change used to help eradicate polio, a predominantly childhood disease that Roosevelt faced as an adult. Once polio was eliminated in this country, the organization focused its attention on children. Today, more than 79 years after Roosevelt’s call to action, March of Dimes continues to call on the community to help make a difference.
Every baby deserves a fighting chance
Premature births was a cause adopted as the March of Dimes’ new mission in 2002. With the focus, “to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality,” March of Dimes has helped create the steady decrease in premature birth rates. Although the percentage is decreasing (currently 9.6% nationwide and 11.4% in Lucas County), Sara Hegarty, executive director for March of Dimes, explains that the organization won’t stop until “every baby gets a fighting chance.”
Hegarty became heavily involved in March of Dimes after the loss of her son Gabriel Michael in 2013. “During that time, March of Dimes was a huge support for me…and having that support system was absolutely amazing,” she said.
With the help of March of Dimes, she launched Gabriel’s Gowns, an organization which repurposes old wedding dresses into burial gowns for babies that pass away shortly after birth, or are stillborn. With the help of many volunteers, Gabriel’s Gowns are available in Mercy Hospitals, Promedica Hospitals, three hospitals in Columbus, and still growing.
March for Babies
March of Dimes also works for change through the yearly March for Babies fundraiser walk. “Our March for Babies event is the largest event of the year and anybody can come out! There’s no registration fee, but fundraising is encouraged,” Hegarty said. March for Babies is May 21 at Owens Community College. The three-mile walk will have three themes.
The first mile is the theme of Hope; hope for a brighter future with a focus on cutting edge research.
The second mile looks to Remember with a beautiful mile stretch displaying signs for babies that have passed.
The third mile is Celebrate. This mile, named Ambassador Avenue, is for the babies that survived. Signs showing the survivors’ journey from NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to present day will be on display for families who fundraised more than $500.
Along with the walk, March for Babies will offer a number of other activities, with breakfast served prior to the walk, and a Taste of Toledo lunch. A Remembrance Tree, for families to write the name of their baby who has passed, and a butterfly garden, will also serve as a place for families will provide solace.
New to the event this year is a Super Hero sprint for the kids. This quarter mile run will take place prior to the walk, and is only $20 per child or $30 for a family. Each child will get a superhero cape to wear while they run.
Throughout the year March of Dimes offers events to help with fundraising, education, and support. Hegarty explained that currently, “we’re really trying to do more outreach for families in the NICU…that’s something I’m focused on expanding.” And with that expansion for the organization, Hegarty is looking for more volunteers. If you’d like to help, call 419-534-3600.
March for Babies
May 21, 2017
Owens Community College
30335 Oregon Rd. | Perrysburg
Registration opens at 8:30am and the walk begins at 10:00am
or call the Toledo office at 419-534-3600