Walking for premature babies Huber Street School students participate in March of Dimes fundraiser

Second grader Migarel Park, 9, was happy to explain last week why he and his fellow Hubert Street School students were walking outside in the sun.

“We’re helping little kids,” he said.

They were taking part in a March of Dimes mini-walk on Friday, April 13 to increase funds for research to help solve medical problems related to premature birth.

The effort at Huber Street School, part of the March of Dimes’ national WalkAmerica fundraising drive, amassed close to $3,000.

For those counting, that’s 30,000 dimes.

Started with FDR and polio

The “March of Dimes” began officially with polio, and unofficially with a comedian’s radio broadcast.

In 1938, as polio continued ravaging the country’s youth, President Franklin D. Roosevelt formed the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. A comedian appealed to radio listeners to send their dimes to the White House for this cause.

The foundation changed its name to the March of Dimes in 1979.

Fundraising walks play important role in March of Dimes efforts

As the March of Dimes hosts charity walks throughout the country, schools are chipping in with their own fundraisers.

Mary Lou Dawson, director of WalkAmerica in North Jersey, noted how important schools are.

“This is a very easy fundraising program,” she said. “But the important thing is that we reach the parents here today. Parents need to be aware that they are very much at risk of having a premature child these days. The rate of prematurity has increased 30 percent since the 1980s.”

She added another alarming statistic: “Currently one in eight babies are born premature, and we have absolutely no idea what’s causing it in half of the cases. It’s absolutely critical that we continue to fund the research.”

According to Dawson, the March of Dimes raised $112 million nationally last year to aid premature babies. Four million was raised in New Jersey through WalkAmerica. Three million of that came back into the state to fund local research programs that look into the causes of premature labor.

Dawson noted that the Huber Street School effort was particularly successful.

“These children and their parents raised $3,000, which is remarkable,” she said. “That’s much better than some of the corporations in the area.”

Kids talk about walk

Giovanni Lewis, 8, who is in the second grade, was pleased by two aspects of the walk.

“I like the wind getting in your face, and it’s pretty healthy for you,” he said. “It’s feels really good helping kids who are sick.”

Walking next to Giovanni was second grader Sai Moturi, 7, who knew exactly why he was going for a walk.

“It helps people to raise money,” he said. “Plus, it’s fresh air. It’s cool.”

Second grader Ryan Ching, 7, talked about how much he liked to walk in all types of weather.

“It’s exercise,” he said. “I like rainy days the best. You get to step in puddles.”

At the end of the walk, Dawson gave some historical perspective.

“Just as people decided 75 years ago to figure out what was causing polio, we’re shifting the same focus to a different cause,” she said.

Mark J. Bonamo can be reached at mbonamo@hudsonreporter.com.


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group