Hundreds help raise funds for March of Dimes

April 25, 1999

March of DimesBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Saving babies was a walk in the park for hundreds of people in Hagerstown on Sunday.

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Area residents raised money for the March of Dimes by participating in the 29th annual WalkAmerica, an event that took them on an eight-mile course through the city.

Crowds gathered at the Long Meadow Shopping Center Sunday morning to register, have breakfast and warm up with an aerobic workout.


Just before 9 a.m., the throng left the parking lot and moved south along Potomac Street. Several jogged, some pushed strollers and many took their dogs along. All had a common cause: "Healthier babies," as one walker, Stephanie Foreman, put it.

"To raise money for the little kids," said Verna Beard, one of several Allegheny Power employees walking the route.

Businesses such as Staples, Citicorp and Red Lobster were among the 45 groups registered for the event, said volunteer coordinator Letha Grimes of the Hagerstown Jaycees. About 300 people registered, each raising money through sponsors.

The fund-raising goal of the Hagerstown event this year was $33,000. Nine walks were planned in Frederick and Montgomery counties as well as throughout the metropolitan region Sunday.

After a trip around Hagerstown City Park, the group traveled down Memorial Boulevard and headed north on Locust Avenue. Police help guide traffic along the way and Community Rescue Service was on hand in case of accidents.

Back in the Long Meadow parking lot, a deejay played and an American flag hung high above on a Hagerstown Fire Department truck's extended ladder. At about 9:47 a.m., the first runner reached the finish line.

Dairy farmer Dale Rhoderick streamed through the archway of suspended red, white and blue balloons. "I've done this since I was 10," he said. "It's for a good cause."

The March of Dimes is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing birth defects and infant mortality.

Founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 to fight polio, the group raises awareness of specific health issues, such as the dangers of smoking and drinking during pregnancy. This year, folic acid is the focus of a $10-million campaign.

About 70 percent of all birth defects are prevented by taking folic acid, according to March of Dimes Community fund-raiser Nancy McElwee.

The vitamin is found in orange juice, fortified cereal, enriched rice or whole wheat bread and green vegetables such as beans or peas. It is important to take folic acid every day, even if you are not pregnant, according to the March of Dimes. Call 1-888-MODIMES for more information.

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