Cowetans March for Babies

by Sarah Fay Campbell


Sarah Fay Campbell

The 2013 March for Babies began at Carl Miller Park Saturday, led by ambassador family Cati and Justin Rhodes and their twins Tripp and Cole.

On Saturday, around 250 people turned out to March for Babies. 

The annual event is a fund-raiser for The March of Dimes, which works to help women have full-term pregnancies and researches the problems that threaten the health of babies. 

The March for Babies this year was a 3.4 mile walk that began and ended at Newnan Utilities’ Carl Miller Park. 

“It turned out to be a beautiful day,” said Melissa Cox, community director for March of Dimes in Coweta and Fayette counties.

“It was a really successful year for us,” Cox added. “We raised over $20,000 just in sponsorship.”

There were several teams that raised money for the walk. They included corporate teams and family teams. Family teams typically are people who “have a mission connection to us,” Cox said. Walkers can raise money through the March of Dimes website by asking local businesses to sponsor them. 

For the family teams, “this has been our biggest year for online fundraising in Coweta,” Cox said. As of Friday, they had raised about $6,000. “But it hadn’t ended yet. It’s grown by $2,000 just in the past two days,” Cox said. “We’ll probably hit around $10,000 with our family teams.” 

“The money we raise goes to help give every baby a healthy start,” Cox said. “By research and advocacy and education.”

The March of Dimes focuses on researching the causes and cures for premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality. 

Before the opening ceremonies Saturday, family team members were invited to write about why they were taking part in the event.

Those cards will be gathered and glued onto a poster that will be sent to the hospital, said volunteers Joyce Freeland and Somer Dooley of Kohl’s.

Participants also got a chance to tour the Angel II Neonatal Transport vehicle. The custom ambulance is essentially a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on wheels. Two of the vehicles have been donated by March of Dimes. Babies who are born in rural areas or in hospitals that don’t have a high level NICU can’t be transported in a regular ambulance. Angel II serves 40 counties and runs 550 to 600 calls a year, said Emergency Medical Technician Milko Mintchev. 

This is the fourth year the event has been held at Carl Miller Park. “They donate the extra hands to help us out… they have been wonderful,” said Cox. 

This year’s presenting sponsor was Piedmont Newnan Hospital.

Gold  sponsors included Southern Crescent Women’s Healthcare, Kason Industries, Georgia Power Plant Yates and Southtowne Motors. 

This year is the 75th anniversary of March of Dimes. The organization was started as a way to combat polio, and school children collected dimes to raise money. After polio was eradicated in the U.S., the focus changed to premature babies. 

Twins Cole and Tripp Rhodes and their parents Cati and Justin were this year’s ambassador family. 

The boys were born eight weeks early after their mother’s water broke prematurely. They were born at Piedmont Newnan Hospital but had to be transferred to a hospital in Columbus after experiencing multiple complications, particularly with breathing.

Cati talked about their journey during the opening ceremonies. 

“I don’t know how much I can tell you without just breaking down,” Justin said.” “Without the Lord, without March of Dimes, and without our friends and family and the hospital, today wouldn’t be possible,” he said. 

No mater how healthy a pregnancy might be, “when they’re ready to come, they’re coming.”

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