Lots of ways for community to help
The time is now to take strides against children's birth defects, as the March of Dimes is gearing up for what it hopes will be the largest WalkAmerica event ever to be held in the Storm Lake community this spring.
Individuals and teams can register online now at www.walk america.org, or by calling 1-877-343-6101.
This year's walk will take place May 7, with registration at 8:30 a.m. and a mass start at 9. The route will start at the Chautauqua Park shelterhouse and run to the Storm Lake campground and back.
The trip is slightly shorter than in previous years when it ran to Frank Starr Park, and avoids safety issues with walkers traveling on streets. "It's also very pretty scenery all along the lakefront," said Jill Wooster, event organizer for the March of Dimes.
An Ambassador Family has been chosen for the local walk - the Jim and Melissa Temple family of Newell. Their son Collin was born with a birth defect and was one of many premature or challenged babies assisted by March of Dimes programs.
Collin, now going on 3, was born with congenital heart defects, and was transferred shortly after birth from Storm Lake to Sioux City, then Life-Flighted to Children's Hospital in Omaha, where he underwent open-heart surgery at six days old. He has since had three more heart surgeries. The advances in children's medical technology are allowing Collin to live a normal childhood.
Entertainment and activities are being lined up for the walk event.
Sara Lee Foods will serve as the major sponsor, the Pilot-Tribune and KAYL Radio are the media sponsors, and Pizza Hut will be providing free pizza for the participants at the end of the walk. Prizes are available for children and adults who meet pledge-raising goals.
Last year's event raised over $19,000.
"Whether you join a team or walk on your own, you'll be giving hope to the more than 470,000 premature babies that will be born too soon this year. You'll feel good about what you're doing and have fun doing it," Wooster said.
Here's how you can help:
* Register to walk as an individual, a family, or a team representing a businessplace, church, school or club, and start raising donations. Have fun with it - choose a theme or outfits.
* If you know a family that has had a premature or birth-defect child, walk in their honor and share the story.
* Talk to your employer about becoming a company sponsor for the WalkAmerica.
* Organize a Blue Jeans Day for Babies in your workplace, or sell candy bars for March of Dimes items to help raise funds. Information on a variety of opportunities is available from the March of Dimes at the number listed earlier.
* Support businesses in your community working to help prevent birth defects. For example, Citizens Bank is currently selling Easter stuffed animals for March of Dimes, and Mr. Movies is selling special Easter pens. Both Sara Lee and Tyson are organizing special employee programs.
A special event in Storm Lake will help to publicize the WalkAmerica. Gingerbread House child care is organizing a Wonder Walk in early April. Children will collect change on special cards, and then will go on their own mini-walk.
Students groups at Buena Vista University are hoping to get involved this year, and there is a possibility of arranging a dime drive with the local elementary schools, Wooster said.
The walkers to beat may be last-year's top money-raiser, Mary Jo Andrews. Last year's top team was Sara Lee.
Donations may also be sent to March of Dimes, in care of Dana Larsen, Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune, P.O. Box 1187, Storm Lake, 50588.