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|March of Dimes hopes to raise $70,000 in 'March for Babies' fundraiser|
Every hour three babies in the United States die, according to statistics from the March of Dimes, which is why the organization is already preparing for its annual 'March for Babies' fundraiser in May.
March for Babies began in 1970 and is one of the organization's biggest fundraisers dedicated to maternal and infant health. Money raised goes toward research and programs to prevent premature births. Each year, 12,500 babies are born with birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Premature birth is the leading cause of all infant deaths in the United States. Nationally, 560,000 babies are born premature each year.
Bernie Bitting, March of Dimes division director for north Louisiana, said, "We'll be out in the streets of Monroe marching for babies so everybody will have a chance to have a healthy baby."
"It's critical with our research today to make sure everybody knows how to have healthy babies," she said.
One in four babies is born prematurely or with some birth defect, and Louisiana, especially Ouachita Parish, has more of these births than any other region in the United States, Bitting said.
This year, the March of Dimes hopes to raise $70,000 during its March for Babies, which will be held May 3 at Forsythe Park.
Last year, the walk raised $72,000.
"We met our goal last year, and we're looking forward to meeting our goal this year," Bitting said. "We have great corporate sponsors, and they all form teams and raise money. And, they're all out there on the day walking."
Bitting says local residents who want to join the March of Dimes in raising funds for this cause should call Sharon Davis, community director for the local March of Dimes organization.
"I think anybody who knows of a child born premature, should come out and join us," Bitting said. "That's our purpose … to work hard to save every baby."
Money that is raised locally goes to various programs and efforts in the community to prevent premature births.
The March of Dimes recently awarded St. Francis Medical Center a $20,000 grant for programs to help reduce the number of pregnant women with gestational diabetes, which can cause complications at birth.