March of Dimes Celebrating 75 Years
Ginger Feldman, Executive Director, 616-247-6861, firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Rapids, MI, July 23, 2013
Volunteers, ambassador families, business partners, medical leaders and representatives from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce joined today in a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of March of Dimes Foundation. In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked every American to give a dime to help fight polio. That set off an incredible chain reaction as chapters opened across the nation. The Kent County March of Dimes Chapter was one of the first founded in the state of Michigan in November, 1939.
On July 23, 1958, forty-five years to the date, the March of Dimes Foundation completed its first mission and took on a new challenge to end premature birth, infant mortality and birth defects. In less than twenty years from its inception, the March of Dimes accomplished its original mission to end the devastating affects of polio, a contagious and paralytic disease that had reached epidemic proportions causing death and disability to children, as well as adults. The March of Dimes is often celebrated as one of the few non-profits to accomplish their first objective. After careful study and rigorous public opinion polls, the organization’s purpose shifted, seeking to be a "flexible force" in the field of public health. March of Dimes funded some of the greatest medical advances of the 20th century, including 13 Nobel Prize recipients, innovative programs in perinatal healthcare, genetics counseling, and research into the causes of premature birth and low birth weight.
Historically, just like today, high level leadership engaged in fundraising that led to Dr. Jonas Salk developing the first polio vaccine. The original founding members of the Kent County Chapter included Judge Edward Burleson, Grand Rapids Police Court; M. Annie Leitch, Director of Nursing, Butterworth Hospital; Dr. Paul Voekler, President, Grand Rapids University and Dr. Frank Jarvis, Grand Rapids Postmaster. Today their current representatives attended the ceremony along with leaders from the Grand Rapids Police, a judge from 61st District Court, the Director of Critical Care at Spectrum Health, nurses from Mary Free Bed, the current March of Dimes board members, the current Board Chair, John Inhulsen, corporate partners, and many March of Dimes ambassadors’ families.
March of Dimes Board Chair, John Inhulsen, said "We are here to celebrate that the March of Dimes helped each and every baby born in Grand Rapids and all of Michigan. Each child born in the last 75 years has been helped through research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. We look forward to a bright future for the next 100 years."
Last year, March of Dimes was able to invested 1.7 million into local Michigan programs and services. One of those programs in the March of Dimes Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Family Support Program®, located at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. The program is the only one of its kind in Michigan. It was developed to provide information and comfort to families during every possible stage of the NICU experience, including hospitalization and the transition home or the unfortunate death of a newborn. In 2012 the program provided support, educational material and services to over 1,200 West Michigan families. Additional funding went to remarkable programs like First Steps to support their ‘Welcome Home Baby’ program which provides essential supplies to encourage safe sleep among newborn babies. Muskegon Family Care was granted support to implement the Centering Pregnancy® model of group care in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) setting. Funds for their first year will be used as start-up for at least four Centering Pregnancy® groups.
For more information, to volunteer or to make a donation to March of Dimes, please contact Ginger Feldman at email@example.com or call our office at (616) 247-6861.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.