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Thousands walk to raise funds for March for Babies Sunday


Thousands came out to raise funds for the March of Dimes Sunday. | Justin Cross / The Cougar

Thousands of Houstonians and UH students participated in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies Walk Sunday morning to raise funds for research and awareness.

“The goal here is to raise money to end prematurity, infant mortality and birth defects (in infants),” March of Dimes Executive Director Darcie Champagne-Wells said. “The March of Dimes is all about healthy babies and the March for Babies event is the number one way that we raise money to support our cause.”

The walk kicked off at 9 a.m., opening the route around the campus its participants.

“We are anticipating today that we’ve got about 35,000 people out here at this March for Babies,” Champagne-Wells said. “That’s about kind of what we bring out every year — $3.5 million is our goal, and with the help of all these great people out here, I’m really confident that we can do that.”

The Spirit of Houston marching band as well as students from various colleges volunteered their time to help raise funds.

“We’re providing blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and BMI screenings,” second-year pharmacy student Bolanle Soyombo said. “We’re also doing education about heart health, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. We do this every year — it’s the best way to reach people.”

The walk was family-friendly. Those participating in the event brought their children and pets and sported team t-shirts.

“Today we have 10 people in our group,” participant Claudia Contreras said. “Me and my co-worker, we actually work for Baylor College of Medicine, and her son was born two months early. He was in ICU for a couple of weeks until he was healthy. That’s why we’re doing this march — for him.”

This was the University’s 20th year hosting the event and the third year for volunteer Kimberly Bennet.

“I’m a neonatal nurse, so I work at a hospital with premature babies,” Bennet said. “Helping their lives be better is what I do for my career, but it’s also my passion. I like healthy babies and the idea of taking care of them.”

The March for Babies in Houston is the largest March of Dimes walk in the country. Champagne-Wells said that premature birth is the number one killer of babies, and most people don’t realize the magnitude of the problem.

“One in every 10 babies is born premature,” Champagne-Wells said. “So, it really, truly is a crisis in the United States and we have research centers focused on ending this crisis,. We’re doing a great job, we’re having a lot of success, but we need continued support to keep this research going and to keep us crossing the finish line.”

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