Event to stop premature deaths kicks off - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Event to stop premature deaths kicks off

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-The Team Captain Kickoff for the March of Dimes Campaign this year took place at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

This is an event where all the team leaders come together, share tips of success, the things people have done in the past to raise money, get their supplies and become educated on the March of Dimes mission.

Community Director with the March of Dimes, Melissa Gann, says the mission of the March of Dimes is improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.

She says premature deaths are a bigger problem in this area than people realize.

"Right now, premature death is the number one cause of death in newborns and there are, on average, seven babies every week in Arkansas alone that die before they reach their first birthday."

Paul Betz, Chief Executive Officer NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, says helping eliminate the number of premature births in our area is important to him and fellow coworkers.

"This is a very important cause not only to the Jonesboro community, but to Arkansas as a whole. One hundred and eleven babies are born prematurely every week in the state of Arkansas. So, it's important that we combine together as a community to try and eradicate premature births."

Tina Pilger from Bono is volunteering for the first time this year.

Pilger says this is something she has always wanted to do.

Her own nephew was born prematurely and she knows first hand the work and help March of Dimes provides.

"You know, you never really realize all the work the March of Dimes does. And once you're in a situation with premature birth you can look back and see exactly what they do to help."

Gann says the money raised will go to help prevent these deaths.

"The money we are raising is going to help with research to prevent this from happening in the first place. So many advances have been made already, but there is so much work yet to be done. We're just trying to figure out what we can do to prevent it and in the meantime what we can do to educate women about how to have a healthy pregnancy."

March for Babies will be on April the 30th at Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro.

If you would like to sign up to participate in the walk, make a donation or find out what you can do to help you can go online to sign up or call the local March of Dimes office at 932-0300.

For more information, log onto their website.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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