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Communities Nationwide Gear Up This Weekend for the 2011 March for Babies

Celebrities, Sports Stars and More Than 7 Million People to Take Part

White Plains, New York — Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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More than 900 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will take part this weekend in March for Babies®, the premier fundraising event for the March of Dimes.

March for Babies supports cutting-edge research and community-based programs that help moms have full-term, healthy babies. March for Babies has been held annually since 1970, and the event has raised a combined total of $1.8 billion to help all babies get a healthy start in life. The goal for this year’s event is to raise more than $106 million.

“Funds raised in March for Babies not only support our efforts to give all babies a healthy start in life, we fund programs that bring comfort and information to families of babies born too sick or soon,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “More than 7 million people, including celebrities, sports stars, and families of babies born sick or prematurely are involved in March for Babies as volunteers, sponsors and participants. Participants can either walk as an individual or join a team with co-workers, family or friends by visiting marchforbabies.org.”

Celebrities from music, film, television, Broadway and sports are lending their star power to bring greater attention to March for Babies.

Celebrity Co-chairs for the Los Angeles March for Babies taking place Saturday, April 30 in Exposition Park are actors Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. Melissa and Joey will join a group of Hollywood moms who set out to do the walk each year.

In New York City, Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning of the New York Giants serves as NYC Celebrity Chairman for March for Babies. He’ll be leading the New York City event on the morning of Sunday, May 1 at Lincoln Center.

Television host and actress Vanessa Minnillo, the national spokesperson for Girlfriends for Folate (GFF), a health education campaign that aims to raise awareness about the importance of folate and folic acid intake among women of childbearing age, also will be walking in New York City on May 1.

A.J. Hawk of the reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, his wife, Laura, and their newborn will join the March for Babies in Dayton, OH, at Carillon History Park on April 30.

A 12-foot-tall dime replica ceremonially rolled down Broadway on April 20 in a “Babies on Broadway” event to celebrate the history of the March of Dimes and Kmart’s 28 years of sponsorship of March for Babies. Joining in the fun were Broadway stars Gregory Jbara (Billy Elliott), Angel Reed (Rock of Ages) and Kate Shindle (Wonderland, Legally Blonde).

Also on hand to lead “Babies on Broadway” was Lauren Fleming, age 7, March of Dimes 2011 National Ambassador. She and her family have spent months traveling across the nation to share Lauren’s inspiring story of survival after being born 3 ½ months early. The entire Fleming family also will walk May 1 at the March for Babies in Houston, Texas, with Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines. Lauren and her father Densel Fleming previously walked in the Chicago Lakefront March for Babies on April 17 with Bruce Johnson, Executive Vice President, Kmart/Sears Holding Company. Visit Lauren’s blog to see places she has visited and people she has met through her travels.

Grammy Award-winning recording artist and March of Dimes volunteer Kelly Clarkson made a stop after her latest appearance on American Idol to join in the Dallas March for Babies on April 16. She congratulated Dallas Top Walker Cedric Allen, his daughter, Hope, and wife Shirley.

To encourage everyone to sign up for March for Babies, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin drove the FedEx/March for Babies #11 Toyota racecar designed by Jake and Josh Aron, 8-year-old twin boys born prematurely, who serve as special ambassadors for the Texas chapter of the March of Dimes, in the April 9 NASCAR race held in Dallas/Fort Worth. The Aron twins were proud to show off “their” March of Dimes car at their hometown Dallas walk. See more about the race on the March for Babies blog.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click here.

About March of Dimes
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. March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes’ number one corporate supporter, Kmart, and other top sponsors Farmers Insurance Group, Bayer HealthCare, CIGNA, Famous Footwear, FedEx, Sanofi Pasteur, United Airlines, First Response and Mission Pharmacal.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit persistats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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