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March of Dimes WalkAmerica approaching

by Darlene J. Taylor

LIFESTYLES REPORTER

There are 399 babies born in an average week in West Virginia. Sixty-six are born to teen mothers; five are born with very low birth weight, and three will die before their first birthdays.

The March of Dimes is working to change those statistics with research and programs to save babies' lives.

March of Dimes funds the research by holding WalkAmerica events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It is estimated more than 9 million people will participate in WalkAmerica this year, including a good turnout of area residents.

The latter will participate in the 2000 Clarksburg WalkAmerica, which will be held Sunday, May 7, at Veterans Memorial Park. Registration begins at 1 p.m. and the walk starts at 2 p.m.

The walk site has changed in response to concerns about walking near the highway.

Mindy Smith, Northern Division director, said the local walk -- one of 20 throughout the state -- is very important to the fund-raising effort.

"Every little bit helps. Funds from every single walk go into making the state strong for the health of mothers and babies. We value each walk because it all goes to save babies," she said.

Anna Dunkle, Clarksburg WalkAmerica chairman, has been involved in March of Dimes WalkAmerica for six years.

"I do it because it helps children. I have five healthy grandchildren and I would like to see all children as healthy as mine," said Dunkle.

"We would very much like the support of the entire community to make this the best year possible. Our goal is $20,000," she added.

This is the 30th anniversary of WalkAmerica, the biggest fund-raiser of the March of Dimes. Participants walk as individuals or as a part of teams, which represent companies, unions, schools, associations and clubs. Clarksburg Mayor David Kates is the honorary chairperson.

Any person or group interested in getting involved is urged to contact Dunkle at 782-2481 or call 1-800-644-3488.

"We can make a presentation to their company or we can mail team captain packets to them to look over," said Smith. "All they have to do is call me at the toll-free number and let me know what they want and how they would like to do it."

Each year, the March of Dimes helps more than 150,000 babies with disabling birth defects and more than 50,000 other babies born so small their lives are in danger.

Smaller fund-raisers held in conjunction with WalkAmerica include paper sneakers that can be sold for $1 to employees or customers to show the business supports the March of Dimes, and Blue Jeans for Babies, where contributors can buy a button that allows them to dress down on a particular day and support WalkAmerica.

Candy bars by World's Finest Chocolate are also available, with the proceeds of the sale of each bar to benefit March of Dimes.

"The team captains can get as creative as they want to entice their employees to get involved. Awareness is another way of getting the March of Dimes message out to employees -- in newsletters, pay check stuffers and bulletin boards," said Smith.

Anyone who would like more information can call 1-800-525-WALK, visit the March of Dimes Web site at www.modimes.org or register through their company or organization as a team member.

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