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Walkers stroll for March of Dimes

April 27, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

The sky was growing increasingly cloudy above the Longmeadow Shopping Center parking lot as volunteers cleaned up around the few remaining walkers recuperating from their efforts late Sunday morning.

Luckily, the last participant in Washington County's March of Dimes WalkAmerica event had made it back to the lot more than a half hour before, said Peter Perini, chairman of the fund-raiser this year.

The tail of about 550 walkers finished the 5.8-mile trek around 11 a.m., said Perini, who remembers walking 25 miles when he participated in the event as a kid.

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Communities around the United States held WalkAmerica events to benefit the March of Dimes on Sunday, said Perini, who said the national organization determines the walk's distance every year.

The distance used to be related to the amount raised by walkers, but that changed two years ago, when the event started requiring straight prepaid sponsorships, he said.

This year, the route - which changes every year - had walkers start at the shopping center, head down Potomac Street to Hagerstown City Park, then head back on Prospect Street.

Perini said he expected walkers raised around $43,000 this year.

The nice weather seemed to have brought out most, if not all, of the people who registered for the walk, he said.

It was a great day for walking, said Hagerstown resident Lisa Sweeney, who has been doing the walk - rain or shine - with sister Cary McGuire for the past four years.

"It's for the babies," said Sweeney, 30, who said the route was nine miles the year they started. "We have fun, too."

The shortened route was still a bit long for Sweeney's 8-year-old daughter Victoria, a first-timer who hitched a few rides on her aunt's back along the way.

McGuire, 15, takes a Golden-Rule approach to the event.

"If I have a baby that needs help, I hope somebody would walk for me," said the Smithsburg High freshman.

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