GREENVILLE – For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from the March of Dimes.
The March of Dimes Foundation focuses on preventing birth defects and infant mortality. It has led the way to discover the genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy, according to March of Dimes.org.
To help support its mission locally, the annual March of Dimes “March for Babies” took place at the Darke County Fairgrounds, in Greenville, Ohio, Saturday, May 6. Activities included: a SuperHero Sprint for children, an option of walking/running a five-mile route through Greenville or a one-mile fun route at the fairgrounds, a Kids’ Zone, a warm-up provided by Co-owner of F45 Melissa “Missy” Riethman, music provided by Bill Floyd Karaoke and DJ Service and free food.
“The money raised by “March for Babies” helps give more babies a fighting chance at a healthy start in life,” said Jackie Allen, executive director, March of Dimes, Greater Dayton Market.
Darke County 2017 March of Dimes Ambassador Caleigh Stebbins graciously greeted the crowd before the March. Caleigh arrived unexpectedly, in 2009, at only 32 weeks weighing less than five pounds. She was unable to breathe on her own due to her under-developed lungs, which is typical of prematurely born babies. Due to these complications, she spent her first weeks fighting for life in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Miami Valley Hospital. Caleigh gave her parents Mindy and Jason leis, a symbol of the journey they took together.
“I came much earlier than expected,” seven-year-old Caleigh said. “I was supposed to be born in July, but instead I was born in June. I was very tiny and only weighed five pounds. Now I am big and strong. I am a first grader at Greenville Elementary School. I love singing, gymnastics, dancing and playing softball. My sister is Gabriella and we call her Ella. I love my family and they love me.”
Bill LaFramboise, executive vice president of Greenville Technology, Inc. (GTI), hosted the event. Overall, GTI raised more than $51,000 this year for the March of Dimes. The company also raffled off a used Honda Accord to winner Shelly Wagner.
“Your support goes beyond today,” LaFramboise said. “Why we walk is important – until every baby survives we will walk and remember those that were lost.”
Members of the Greenville High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) Color Guard Presented the Colors while the Ansonia High School Choir sang the “National Anthem”. Mississinawa Valley High School Band lined both sides of the starting line to kick – off the walk with some uplifting music.
While the community shows a lot of support in donations and participation for the “March for Babies Walk”, the numbers were down this year from about 300 to between 150-200 participants, according to Logistics Chair for the Darke County “March For Babies” Stacey Brant. She said it was probably due to the inclement weather. Brant said the March actively seeks volunteers, as the event takes a lot of work. She has been volunteering for about 11 years.
“It is important that my children see the value in helping the community,” she said. “We get excited about celebrating it every year.”
National Sponsors of the “March for Babies Walk” included: K-Mart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, Cigna and Hospital Corporation of America. Locally, the March was sponsored by Greenville Technology, Inc., Dave Knapp Ford Lincoln and Wayne HealthCare.
For more information, visit https://walk.marchofdimes.org/
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.
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