March of Dimes to raise awareness for premature births

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

The month of March may be at an end, but the March of Dimes soldiers on in their fight to stop premature births. The Waco March for Babies will take place on April 15 at McLane Stadium. The Baylor March of Dimes team along with many others will be raising money to reach a goal of $160,000.

The current focus of the March for Babies is to help raise awareness and find a solution for premature births, a problem that affects one out of every 10 babies born in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March of Dimes faculty mentor Dr. Marcie Moehnke said that the March of Dimes is working to figure out what causes premature labor and how they can help babies be carried to term.

“I think it’s important for students to have an awareness of the fact that not all pregnancies end in 40 weeks with a perfectly healthy baby,” Moehnke said, “and becoming aware of that so that they may help others who are going through something traumatic associated with that pregnancy or birth.”

Chartered in December of 2014, the Baylor March of Dimes organization raises funds for the March for Babies, as well as volunteers at the event. Baylor students organize the children’s game area at the march, which has grown from simple games of “duck-duck-goose” to duck ponds, ring tosses and bounce houses.

“Families are coming out with their kids who were preemies or in the NICU or have somehow been impacted by the March of Dimes in addition to families who have lost children, who are coming out to support the mission and the cause,” Moehnke said.

March of Dimes is an organization founded during World War II by Franklin D. Roosevelt to develop solve the problem of polio. People were encouraged to send their dimes to the White House to fund the necessary research. Since the development of the polio vaccine, the March of Dimes turned its attention to birth defects and healthy pregnancies, funding discoveries such as the importance of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects in fetuses.

While the organization has many volunteers from within the science departments, March of Dimes President and Donna, senior, Derek Garza said they welcome members from any discipline.

“March of Dimes funds research to help make premature birth a problem of the past,” Garza said. “We need more people to come in and join in the fight. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed and we need all the support we can get.”

In addition to fundraising and volunteering at the March for Babies, the Baylor March of Dimes organization also volunteers to help families in the neonatal infant care unit (NICU) at the Hillcrest Baylor Scott & White Medical Center.

“This is the scariest time of their lives. One of their kids is going through a premature birth,” Garza said. “You never want anyone to feel alone or unsupported in a time like this.”

To contribute to the Baylor March of Dimes fundraiser, donations can be made here.