From left, Kade Richburg and Kaleb Gluff snack on pretzels and chips while attending [auth] the March of Dimes March for Babies kickoff event with their mothers at Pioneer Bank, Thursday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Pioneer Bank hosted Thursday a March of Dimes event to launch the fundraising campaign for its annual March for Babies, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 13 at Cielo Grande Park.
March of Dimes state director Kim Huett said it’s a big year for the organization as it celebrates 75 years of improving health for babies through research, vaccines and other medical breakthroughs.
“We touch every baby born in the U.S.,” she said.
To illustrate its impact on families around the nation, the organization presented videos featuring testimonials and footage from past walks.
The Roswell event will be the first of four March for Babies events in the state, said Becky Horner, March of Dimes division director for southern New Mexico.
“I’m really excited about Roswell and the growth we’ve seen,” she said.
Last year, the event drew 150 walkers and raised more than $38,000. Family and company teams from last year, as well as corporate partners and sponsors, joined the organization for Thursday’s celebration, which featured pizza and giveaways.
Along with the 3-mile walk, Horner said April’s event also will be a day of games, food and music.
“It’s more of a festive attitude that day,” she said. “It’s a fun, family morning.”
Participants can choose to walk individually or as a team and can fundraise online.
Last year, local group Team Ryan raised more than $1,000. Team member Sheridan Gluff also is the Roswell volunteer coordinator for March for Babies.
The group, which has as many as 50 members, is named in remembrance of Gluff’s eldest son Ryan, who died three years ago from a congenital heart defect.
She attended with her 1-year-old son Kaleb, as well as other family members and teammates.
“I’m a part of this because I don’t want other families to go through what we did,” she said. “No family should have to learn about a birth defect from the coroner’s office.”
The organization plans to lobby the state Legislature next year for a bill that would mandate that all newborns be screened for the condition.
Gluff said the goal of Team Ryan this year is to raise $7,500 in honor of the organization’s 75th anniversary.
To create a team or find more information, visit marchforbabies.org.