Families and friends gathered at Breitbeck Park, Saturday to take part in the March of Dimes ‘March for Babies’, an event held every year by the non-profit organization. March of Dimes mission is is to provide support for children with special needs after birth.
Hanni Kmetz, Division Director of the Central New York region says the annual March for Babies is the organization’s largest event of the year and brings in the most money. “In Oswego alone we raise over $30,000 a year from the walk,” Kmetz said. “The walk is also an opportunity for families to get together and have a network of support.”
The support from other families is one of the most rewarding things to come from the walk. Tim Stone, along with his wife and two daughters feel that support even more so. They have attended the walk for 10 years in honor of their daughter Stella who was full term still-born in 2004. Stella would have been 10 years old this past Monday. Stone says The March of Dimes has helped keep Stella’s memory alive. “The only people that really remember her are family,” Stone said. “We do this so other people are aware she existed.”
Families who attend the walks will find creative ways to remember a loved one or just show support to a child that had a rough start to life. Erin Lalonde attended the walk with her family to support her first and only son who was born 10 weeks early at only two pounds and twelve ounces. They all wore shirts that read the words ‘Still Living, Laughing, and Loving.’ “The name goes back to our family,” said Lalonde. “My aunt passed away from a brain tumor a few years before my son was born and now has a foundation in her honor called ‘Live, Laugh, Love’. We did a play off of that for the walk because we’re still living, laughing, and loving, after the difficult road we’ve had with our son.”
According to the March of Dimes, over 19,881 babies are born every year in the Central New York region. Funding from the March of Dimes is facilitated through many ways including vaccinations for newborns. Almost every baby in the central region is vaccinated against polio and 14 other diseases. Babies are also screened for over 30 inherited disorders. Below are more detailed statistics.
Hanni Kmetz says even though some of the stories are sad, the mission of the March of Dimes is to continue to honor the memory of those who have passed on and to help build a better future for those who need extra attention in the first years of life. Kmetz says one of the reasons she became involved with the March of Dimes is because she has been personally effected by a loved one who has struggled. “My sister had a child that was born pre-term,” Kmetz said. “She was born six weeks early and I saw the struggle she went through and it helped to make all this so much more real for me.”
The event featured a free picnic, kids activities, DJ, and giveaways from 105.9 The Rebel. Oswego Mayor Thomas Gillen was also on hand to deliver a few words about the walk. You can see his statement, interviews and the start of the walk in the video below.
[su_youtube url=”http://youtu.be/jILJ1ovkSV8″ width=”580″ height=”440″][su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lys1H4Pn0cY&feature=youtu.be” width=”580″ height=”440″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqB-lAB4OUw [/su_youtube]