About 400 people of all ages — including many parents pushing baby strollers, and at least one dog in tow — hit the pavement Saturday in an effort that boosted funding and awareness for a special cause.
“We’re here for a common goal and that’s healthy babies,” explained Bill James, 2013 campaign chairman for the annual March of Dimes walk Saturday on the Emily B. Taylor Greenway.
While a show of force by 40 to 50 different fundraising teams wearing brightly colored T-shirts helped with the awareness part of the equation, James pointed out that fostering the welfare of society’s youngest members also requires money.
Organizers were hoping to generate $50,000 in conjunction with Saturday’s March for Babies, according to Velvet Linville-Scales of Kernersville, Greater Triad Division director for the March of Dimes. The total was still being tallied during Saturday’s event based at Veterans Memorial Park, but Linville-Scales was confident that goal would be reached.
The money will be used to help families facing the challenges of children arriving prematurely or with birth defects, including research for those conditions, as well as promoting before-birth efforts to prevent problems, James said.
Many of the babies among the crowd Saturday have experienced issues, said James, who is chief executive officer of Northern Hospital of Surry County.
“They’re little miracles,” said Jill Jefferson, who witnesses such problems firsthand as an employee of Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates in Mount Airy, which was among various businesses fielding teams for Saturday’s gathering.
“It’s just a pleasure seeing all the babies we work with and seeing how far they’ve come,” added Jefferson, who was accompanied by her own daughter Jenna, 4.
Much of the actual money-generating efforts took place well before Saturday’s March for Babies, with the business and other teams devising various mini-campaigns of their own.
“We’ve been having all kinds of things to raise money,” James said.
SouthData Inc., for example, held a silent auction, raffles and a Pizza Day to aid the cause, said Andrea Brown, a company employee.
Meanwhile, Nester Hosiery had its own creative approach, according to Jenua Nester, who is accounting manager at the company.
“We had a competition,” Nester said. She explained that an employee of the front office and another in shipping tried to sell the most cards showing pictures of individual babies whom employees could show support for by paying $1.
Such collective efforts do make a difference in the lives of families, according to James Jestes, a member of the Ambassador Family for this year’s March of Dimes event. At one point before Saturday’s walk, Jestes walked onto a stage at the park with his wife Sheena and their daughter Kerrington.
Now a normal 2-year-old, Kerrington’s health was in danger from a high-risk pregnancy and she was born four weeks premature.
“She’s been able to grow and become the strong baby that she is,” her father said, crediting modern medical developments. “We are grateful for the March of Dimes for making a difference in our lives.”
On Saturday while being held by her dad, the blonde-haired Kerrington even led a group singing of “Happy Birthday” to that organization now in its 75th year. In the earlier days, eradicating polio was a main focus.
Along with Saturday being a time of hope and joy over such successes, a moment of silence was set aside to remember those babies who have been lost. The event also included musical entertainment, face painting, free food and other activities.
The March of Dimes was the first organization to hold walks to highlight its campaigns, according to James. And in Saturday’s case, this meant traversing the entire length of the greenway and back, a distance of more than four miles.
As the crowd prepared to assemble at the starting line in its bright attire to celebrate months of hard work on behalf of future citizens, James said, “This is a chance for people to come out and shine.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.