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March For Babies returns to Shelby

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Fund-raising event was postponed in 2009

By Lisa King

After being cancelled last year, a major children’s fundraiser is coming back to town.

The March For Babies, the largest fund raising event for the March of Dimes, is coming back to Shelbyville for the eighth year.

The event, which raised $117 million nationwide last year, will be held Sept. 25.

Danielle Gleitz, community director of the March of Dimes, said that everyone in Shelbyville who participated in the event in 2008 is excited that it is coming back to town this year.

“The March of Dimes is so happy to be bringing the walk back to Shelbyville, and we are really looking forward to seeing a big turnout on walk day in support of all our babies,” she said.

Gleitz’s excitement is shared by many local people involved in the event, especially by Shelbyville’s ambassador family, the Newtons, whose daughter, Melanie, was greatly helped by the March of Dimes when she was born 3 months premature 4 years ago, weighing only 2 pounds, 2 ounces.

“I was ecstatic when she [Gleitz] called,” Melissa Newton said. “We were so disappointed when everything fell through last year because there was nobody to run it.”

Gleitz said that three Kentucky walks had to be cancelled in 2009 because there was not enough funding available to staff the event.

“It was just the economy,” she said. “But this year, we’re doing better, and everybody that participated in Shelbyville last year [in 2008] is very happy it is coming back this year. A lot of them have been touched by it, and that personal involvement really makes a difference.”

Gleitz reported that in 2008, the Shelbyville walk raised $21,000, with an even better year in 2007, when it raised $41,000.

Gleitz added that she hopes that the enthusiasm that Shelbyville has shown so far for this year’s walk will mean a big turnout and a very successful fundraiser for the organization.

“The March of Dimes is hoping to have more support than ever for the 2010 March For Babies so that Shelbyville can continue to support healthy babies,” she said. 

Shelby County residents can sign up today to help fund lifesaving research and educational programs aimed at helping moms have healthy babies. 

“Shelby County has come together every year and raised over a total of over a hundred and eighty-eight thousand for babies,” Gleitz said, adding that this year they are hoping to surpass their goal of only $25,000.

Funds raised by March for Babies in Shelby County support the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Project at Norton Suburban Hospital, which helps parents through the difficulties of having their new baby admitted for intensive care. The funds also support March of Dimes Research Grants at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville to study causes and prevention of premature birth.

Also, each year, the Greater Kentucky Chapter of the March of Dimes gives an average of $100,000 in community grants. This money is granted to 4 to 6 organizations throughout the Greater Kentucky Chapter to fund community educational programs benefiting pregnant women and babies.

Newton encourages people to participate in the walk.

“Our family is so thankful for the March of Dimes and all they have done for our little Melanie,” she said. “She is a happy, striving little girl, and we are so very thankful for her.”

Also excited about the upcoming event is Joyce Nay, who said she is planning to put together a team for the Shelby County Board of Realtors.

“I have been involved with this for years, and was so disappointed when it was cancelled last year,” she said.

“My first grandchild was born premature and that just kind of reinforces my desire to help out, because anytime you can help babies be born healthy, that’s a service that really comes from the heart.”

Interested walkers and donors can visit marchforbabies.org or call Gleitz at 800-525-9255 or locally at 502-895-3737 to sign up as an individual, start a corporate, family or friends team, or donate to help babies be born healthy.