Annual ‘march for babies’ event held in Franklin
Not even the crisp morning air and a biting breeze could dampen Macon County’s March of Dimes annual “march for babies” event Saturday morning in downtown Franklin. Participants from Macon County and Western North Carolina coalesced at Franklin’s Memorial Park to give their support to local March of Dimes initiatives.
The March of Dimes Foundation is a national non-profit organization that works to raise money and awareness about premature births and birth defects.
Local foundation representatives and area residents joined together to walk more than three miles in the downtown area in an effort to build support for the organization.
“We are wanting to teach people about what the March of Dimes is all about, and I think coming together as a community is always a good thing,” said event coordinator Jennifer Hollifield. “This event highlights our fundraising efforts and helps to get the message out about what we are trying to do. This is basically the culmination of everything we’ve done so far this year,” said Hollifield.
Macon County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman is the foundation’s honorary chairperson for 2011. “I think anytime we can come together as a community and raise awareness for this type of cause, it is special,” said Dr. Brigman at the rally. “I’m honored to be a part of the process and it’s good to be able to give my support for the March of Dimes. Also, as a parent, I am extremely fortunate and blessed to have children of my own and being a parent really puts things in perspective. It is truly a blessing to be able to lend my support for a cause like this,” he said.
John and Melanie Allen, along with their twins, Logan and Alex, attended the event as well. The Allen family are the designated 2011 Ambassador Family of the year for Macon County’s March of Dimes organization, a position they are certainly worthy of. Their presence brought a more personal touch to the event, illustrating what the foundation represents in tangible terms.
“Logan and Alex were born several months prematurely and had multiple birth defects,” explained Melanie Allen, who also serves on the local March of Dimes Steering Committee. “They were finally released from the hospital after being there for several months, and we were really thankful that we were able to bring them home,” she said.
Logan and Alex were born four months prematurely in February 2008. Their combined weight exceeded just three pounds. Their survival story is remarkable and inspirational in more ways than one.
The Allen family is consistently active with the March of Dimes foundation, believing the organization will help other parents overcome similar obstacles. “We really didn’t know why Alex and Logan went through so many problems, but we know it happened for a reason, and by being involved with the March of Dimes it helps us support a worthy foundation,” stated Allen. “We know how important these efforts are,” she said.
Michaela Blanton-Lowe, chairperson of Pisgah’s March of Dimes Foundation, was also present at the annual walking event. Her experiences with the foundation further demonstrates how important the organization is to families across America.
“I experienced first-hand how hard a premature birth can be and the pain it can cause a child and family, said Blanton- Lowe. In 2008, her son Tye was born seven weeks too early and suffered several birth defects. Tye Blanton was born in May of 2008 and passed away five months later.
“The March of Dimes is a foundation that can really help a lot of families and children, and I became involved with the organization after my son Tye was born,” said Blanton- Lowe. Being active with the foundation is very helpful and it is something I value greatly. Being a mother is definitely the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” she said.
The March of Dimes foundation was originally established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fight the polio epidemic. After the organization assisted in defeating polio, they began to concentrate their efforts on fighting premature birth defects and infant mortality. Since 2003, the organization has focused exclusively on their Premature campaign, and much of the foundation’s resources and initiatives are implemented by local groups across the United States, exemplified by Jennifer Hollifield and her staff in Macon County.