March of Dimes raises money for babies’ health research

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March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that holds activities and events each year to raise money for research for pregnancy and baby health issues.

“March of Dimes is a voluntary nonprofit organization that works to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality,” said Illinois Northeast Division Director Pamela Bowden. “In this country there are more than 500,000 babies that are born prior to 37 weeks.”

March of Dimes, founded in 1938, will celebrate its 75th year anniversary in 2013. March of Dimes was originally created to help find a cure for polio, and after funding the research that developed a vaccine to combat it, the organization changed its focus to prematurity.

“President Franklin Delano Roosevelt founded our organization on his birthday on Jan. 30, 1938, because he was a victim of polio,” said Bowden. “The President’s friend, Eddie Cantor, a comedian and actor, made an announcement on a radio program that everyone should send a dime to the White House, and within weeks, over $268,000 worth of dimes were mailed in, and from that, the name March of Dimes was born.”

March of Dimes holds many fundraising events and activities each year across the country to raise money for medical research, as well as to educate and raise awareness. Most recently, the Northeast Illinois Division of the March of Dimes granted a community award for 2012 to two local health agencies that will fund initiatives at the Will County and Kankakee health departments.

“Here in Illinois we do March for Babies, and some of us do Bikers for Babies,” said Bowden. “We also do a Suburban Signature Chefs event in the fall. It will be on Nov. 14 at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. Chefs from major restaurants come in and we do a tasting and an auction.”

According to Bowden, 90 cents out of every dollar raised from March of Dimes events in Illinois goes directly to research.

“This last year in 2011, in just three walks, we raised over $200,000. The money mainly came from families who have been touched by the March of Dimes, or know someone who has,” said Bowden. “In 2012-2013, there will be over $3.365 million from Illinois alone to go to major hospital research and colleges.”

Bowden said the organization is continuously looking for volunteers and sponsors from the local community.

“My division covers Will, Grundy, Kankakee and Kendall counties, and we do walks in all those different areas with over 1,000 volunteers,” said Bowden. “We are always looking for volunteers and sponsors. They are all very important to us.”

For more information about March of Dimes, contact Illinois Northeast Division Director Pamela Bowden by calling (815) 600-8086, by email to pbowden@marchofdimes.com, or by visiting the Website at www.marchofdimes.com/illinois.

You can also follow March of Dimes on Facebook at facebook.com/marchofdimesjolietil, or on Twitter at twitter.com/marchofdimesjol.