Some very special people live in the Marshall area. People like Kate Berg, Lisa Bucher, Betty Plaetz, Lindsey Voigt, Natasha Drackley and Brenda Dirckx are heroes for babies. They are working right now to make the March for Babies on May 4 at Marshall Middle School an event to remember.
These wonderful women are in good company. More than 3 million volunteers enable the March of Dimes to achieve its goals. Every year, these leaders march more than 5 million miles, speak to tens of thousands of people about the mission and help raise millions of dollars.
The first groups of women to help the March of Dimes were part of a campaign called Mothers March in the 1950s. As polio epidemics grew more widespread, volunteers went door to door to collect dimes so researchers working in labs could develop a successful vaccine.
In the 1970s the very first March of Dimes walk-a-thons took place ushering in a new era in fund-raising by promoting fitness and health through walking. The first walks usually involved students and were truly marathons often 25 miles or more. Those who completed the marathon walk received a patch called "The Order of the Battered Boot." This year, the walk is much easier, just four miles to support stronger, healthier babies.
Even the youngest volunteers understand the importance of helping others. Today, thousands of young people, from elementary school to college, help the March of Dimes, often inspiring a lifetime of volunteering. Here in Marshall, the Marshall School District has raised more than $20,000 over the past decade to help babies.
Generosity for babies extends to the good folks at ADM who have raised more than $77,000 over the past 11 years. Also, the wonderful people at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, who have been walking in the March for Babies since 1997 raising more than $45,000.
March of Dimes extends a special thanks to Team Ourada Twins. With help from their friends and family, Andy and Jackie Ourada have raised more than $30,000 in honor of their three sons born premature: seven-year-old twins Lincoln and Austin and one-year-old Nolan.
With help from all these wonderful people around Marshall, March of Dimes is making a difference. After rising for decades, the nation's preterm birth rate has declined for the past 5 years, to a 10-year low of 11.7 percent. While we celebrate this progress for America's mothers and babies, we remain steadfastly focused on the hard work ahead to achieve our goal of 9.6 percent by 2020. With your help we will get there.