March for Babies

Last year's ambassador family Bonnie & Jason Shelby with daughter, Georgia.

Did you know the prematurity rate for infants in Memphis is among the highest in the nation? So, too, is our infant mortality rate. That’s why the work the March of Dimes does is so important. During the organization’s February kick-off for the March For Babies fund-raiser, guests learned of the research being done to understand the root causes of prematurity and birth defects in infants. The organization’s aim is help moms deliver healthier, full-term babies.    

The annual fund-raising walk, which takes place Saturday, April 27th, at Shelby Farms, brings together many families whose lives have been touched by prematurity or other birth issues. Last year’s march raised $559,000. The goal is to raise $600,000 this year.

James Jones was among 50 walkers acknowledged during the kick-off as those who raised more than $1,000 for the organization. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Jones has been involved with the March of Dimes for 20 years. “I do it because I like knowing this organization makes a difference for families.” 

Mom Penny Callonas has participated in the March For Babies for the past decade. “My daughter was just 16 months old when my second child, Trace, died of SIDS” at eight weeks of age. Penny honored his life by organizing Trace’s Team. Today, that team is made up of more than 30 friends and family members.

Friends walk alongside Jessica Vinson, too, a mom who heads up Team Riley. Jessica’s daughter, Riley, was delivered seven weeks premature in 2007. She and her husband first encountered the March of Dimes vis-a-vie a booklet they were given at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, one the March of Dimes publishes that explains the medical terminology parents encounter with a premature infant. Though her daughter passed away eight days later, Jessica recognized the important work the organization does. Last year, Team Riley raised more than $14,000, thanks in part to an adult soccer league tournament fund-raiser the couple hosts. “We’ve got good friends who support us,” says Jessica. “They know the issue of prematurity is near and dear to our hearts.”  

In addition to the walk, this year the March of Dimes has partnered with the Children’s Museum of Memphis (CMOM) to support an interactive exhibit that will educate children on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The new exhibit is scheduled to open at CMOM later this month.

If you’d like to put together a team or walk as an individual in the March For Babies, go to the March of Dimes website and sign up on the online registration form. You’ll be raising money for a good cause.



March For Babies • Saturday, April 27

Come walk at Shelby Farms

Get your team together now!

Registration: 8 a.m. Walk: 9 a.m.

Distance: 4 miles. Event steps off from the park’s visitor center.

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