March of Dimes

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March of Dimes

The nation's oldest and best-loved annual walking event – the March of Dimes WalkAmerica – took place this past weekend, raising funds to help stem the growing crisis of premature birth in the United States.

For the ninth year, Jets Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Namath served as the New York Honorary Chair of the March of Dimes WalkAmerica.  Namath not only participates in the walk but makes several corporate visits and is involved with the planning.

"It was a perfect day" Namath said. "How could it not be when you walk with over 10,000 New Yorkers for a great cause?  I have always said that life is a team game and WalkAmerica proves it. I have been a March of Dimes volunteer for over 40 years and I can't think of anything more important in life than saving babies.

In addition to Namath, former Jets Rich Caster, Bruce Harper, Dave Herman and John Schmitt also participated in WalkAmerica. Namath has already agreed to return as Honorary Chair next year, which will mark his 10th Year as New York Chair. The New York City Walk alone had 10,000 plus walkers this year and raised $2.7 million.Namath also hosts the Joe Namath March of Dimes Celebrity Golf Classic, which will be held October 5th at Bethpage.  For more information, please call 212-353-1206.

The $106 million that the March of Dimes expects to raise from this event supports research and other programs to save babies from serious health problems, including premature birth, the leading killer of newborns.  Prematurity has increased by more than 30 percent since 1981, and now affects more than 500,000 babies each year.

The top 10 U.S. cities conducting WalkAmerica this past weekend were:

  • New York, NY – Sunday, April 30, beginning at Lincoln Center
  • Los Angeles, CA – Saturday, April 29 at Griffith Park
  • Chicago, IL – Sunday, April 30 at Grant Park, Lakefront
  • Philadelphia, PA – Sunday, April 30 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • San Francisco, CA – Saturday, April 29 at The Airfield at Crissy Field
  • Houston, TX – Sunday, April 30 at University of Houston's Robertson Stadium
  • Cleveland, OH – Sunday, April 30 at Quicken Loans Arena
  • Minneapolis, MN – Sunday, April 30 at Parade Stadium
  • St. Louis, MO – Saturday, April 29 at The Muny-St. Louis Forest Park

WalkAmerica has raised more than $1.6 billion for the health of America's babies since it began in 1970.  These funds have allowed the March of Dimes to support lifesaving medical breakthroughs such as:  

  • Initiation of special intensive care nurseries in hospitals to care for sick newborns.
  • Research on surfactant therapy, which helps babies born with underdeveloped lungs to breathe.
  • Folic acid education campaigns to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects.
  • Community grants to help more women get access to prenatal care.

Approximately 20,000 teams participated in WalkAmerica nationwide, drawn from corporations, unions, schools, clubs, Family Teams, and other organizations. WalkAmerica takes place in nearly 1,100 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. More information for WalkAmerica can be found by visiting walkamerica.org or by calling 1-800-525-WALK.

March of Dimes WalkAmerica 2006 national sponsors leading the way to healthier babies are Kmart, CIGNA, FedEx Corporation, Famous Footwear, Farmers Insurance Group, First Response, Grain Foods Foundation, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, BabyFit.com, Outdoor Services, Continental Airlines and Discovery Health Channel.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org

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