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March of Dimes seeks 'Ambassador Family'

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
More than 1,000 babies die before their first birthday each year. March of Dimes helps to improve the health of these babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
March of Dimes Foothills Division, which includes Rowan County, is kicking off its biggest fundraiser, March for Babies, formerly WalkAmerica. The kickoff is Thursday at the Hurley Family YMCA from 12-1 p.m.
Each year, the March of Dimes selects a special family (Ambassador Family) whose child’s life was saved by the organization’s research, programs or educational campaigns to give a face to its mission.
The nonprofit organization is searching for an Ambassador Family who would be the face of the Rowan County area March of Dimes.
“It’s usually someone who shows how March of Dimes has contributed to their baby being healthy or a family who lost a child,” said Community Director Chrystal Bell.
The family would speak at a few local events and meetings to tell people how the organization has helped them, explained Bell.
The family would speak at the March for Babies event, and afterward at an awards reception.
March of Dimes would provide a gift, an “ambassabear,” for the family’s baby from Build-A-Bear Workshop.
“Our goal is to see that every baby gets a healthy start, research causes, make sure moms have a healthy pregnancy, be there for families through our NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) Family Support Program,” Bell said.
Bell has been with the organization for nearly four years. This is her fourth March for Babies. In addition to being responsible for Rowan County, she helps with 15 other counties.
There is currently one location in Conover, but the organization is expanding.
The Rowan County March for Babies is 10 a.m., Sept. 19, at Catawba College. The walker check-in begins at 9 a.m.
The walk route is 3.1 miles and at a steady pace takes about an hour.
Anyone can raise money for the March for Babies by walking as an individual, as part of a team or be invited by family, friends or a co-worker to participate. Teams can be any size, whether two or 2,000 people.
Participants can also volunteer to register walkers, staff rest stops and offer refreshments.
Walkers can ask family, friends and others to sponsor them in the walk with a donation. A walker can ask for donations via e-mail.
Participants can register for the event online and sign up for their own personal page where they can invite people to participate.
Bell encourages people to sign up, personalize their page and send e-mails via the page to invite friends and family.
Once people sign up, she asks that they send her an e-mail so she’ll know who her Rowan County participants are.
This is a time for team captains or other interested parties to get information about the campaign.
The money raised goes to research why premature birth happens and how it can be prevented, education to help women have healthy pregnancies and recognize the signs of preterm labor, assistance for health care providers in better identifying women at risk for premature birth and help answer questions about pregnancy through the March of Dimes Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center.
In 2008, Rowan County March for Babies raised more than $50,000, with more than 200 walkers representing 60 companies, families and organizations.
President Franklin Roosevelt established the March of Dimes in 1938 to save young people from polio, and within 17 years, the Salk vaccine had been developed.
If you are a family who has been helped by March of Dimes and would like to be considered as an ambassador family, contact Bell at 828-464-8905, cbell@marchofdimes.com or go to the organization’s Web site, www.marchofdimes.com.

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